Ram Dass and Paul Gorman wrote a book called “How Can I Help?” It was a highly influential textbook for me in seminary when I was studying pastoral care. The book is a guide for service, be it as professionals, volunteers, activists, family or friends. At its core, the key lessons involve listening and asking people what they need, rather than diagnosing and proscribing care on one’s own.
Our “Alphabet Parents Support Group” will be talking after the 10:30 AM service about what they need from the congregation in support. Debbie Burns and I will be listening to them and reporting back to the congregation on that conversation. But I am aware that in our “Stranger Danger” society in which we live we are often hesitant about approaching people who are unfamiliar to us with offers to assistance. But that awkwardness is all to often coded as insensitivity, callousness, or scorn. One of the kindest things that happened when my special needs child became a part of the Trinity family was when a wonderful member of this congregation approached my wife and I and asked what insight we could give her when it came to interacting with our daughter. She asked because that she wanted to create a healthy, positive, nurturing relationship between one member of the body of Christ and another.
So if you see not just a parent of a special needs child but any parent in our parish struggling or even just being present here, please set aside your own concerns, anxieties, awkwardness, or reserve and ask the question “how can I help?” Even if we don’t need or want it in the moment, it won’t go unappreciated.
Yours in Christ,