Ministry in listening, grief and loss

Program staff David Lappano shares thoughts about two fall learning circles.

This October the Centre has offered two learning circles – Ministry as Listening and Grief and Loss. Students were surprised at how much they learned from each other by beginning with sharing a significant sound in their lives. The sound of water lapping under a dock conjured memories of times of rest and friendship. The sound of Canada Geese was associated with spring and accompaniment – the geese’s v-formation an illustration of helping each other travel as the geese shared space in the front. Memories of being called in for meals by parents or the ringing of a bell.

Actor/playwright Debbie Patterson reads from her work “This Is How It Ends” about dying and end of life issues.

In the middle of the week the students were sent in pairs to visit a member of the local community which allowed them the opportunity to reflect on their listening skills and the intimacy of sharing stories.  There were certainly expressions of fear and trepidation beforehand, but following that experience were examples of deep learning and meaning. It was a sacred experience for many.

A ceremony for a celebration of life. Jennifer Price (background), Lorrie Lowes and Barbara McGill.

This past week we have been exploring the personal, spiritual, and social meanings of death and dying, grief and loss. Students heard deep stories from one another of their pathographies (stories of life’s losses). Again, many students told that this activity was an excellent way for them to get to know each other and for them to begin exploring how they will inhabit their role as pastoral/spiritual support to others.

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