My door is always open.
The boys troop in, not knocking, launching themselves into chairs beginning a conversation which had already begun in their heads. I quickly try to catch-up. They jabber about trivialities but know I enjoy their company, they know my office is a safe place.
He calls to say his glasses broke. Living on a fixed income, I know he does not have the funds to buy anything beyond his small budget. I ask him to meet me at Target where he obtained his last prescription. We talk about life in between eye tests and trying on new frames. He leaves the store, sight renewed.
A mom pushing a stroller with her little one peeks into the office to see if I’m there. She smiles as I kneel down to greet her toddler. We chat about the child’s latest exploits, her husband’s new job, her neighborhood, and why she wonders about life’s meaning.
I stop by a colleague’s office to congratulate him on the publication of a journal article. We discuss how hard it is to write, even harder to secure a byline. We laugh about the latest movie we saw and he mentions how he will take his son to the theatre on Saturday.
A civic group calls with a need to dialogue about partnering. They are concerned with the most recent spate of violence on their streets and wonder how we can unify our efforts to bring peace. A group of us walk the same boulevard where a young man died in a shooting, showing solidarity and resolve.
She sends an email inquiring about the best doctoral program toward her future interests. I enthusiastically offer a few options. The email chain grows lengthy with her questions, observations, and my exhortations to continue.
People need pastoral care. The word “pastor” has its origin in shepherding. Shepherds guarded sheep but also brought sheep to pastures where animals could feed in peace. Pastoral work is not limited to the office of a pastor. Everyone should set the atmosphere of security which allows folk to feel safe. The tone, the mood of a person matters to people.
“Ambiance” is the tone sought by restaurateurs whose focus is how patrons feel in their eatery. “Hospitality” is the welcome one feels when invited into a home, a group, an office. “Serenity” is the air of acceptance to feel at peace, wherever the place, because of the person. “Availability” is the offer extended to anyone who wants to be with us because they know we tend to peoples’ need.
Dr. Mark Eckel is president of The Comenius Institute where he cares for students.