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Voices from the Trinity community

What Have You Learned?

The Rev. Kristin Miles joined Trinity in 2014 as Associate Priest for Pastoral Care and Community

SINCE COMING TO TRINITY I’ve received more hugs than I ever expected. In a seminary class, I learned about the various metrics used for measuring the health of a church community. After my few months here at Trinity, I would propose that a hug metric be added to that class syllabus. I have experienced great warmth in this congregation.

PREACHING happens through all of us as “theology walking.” I once saw a sign that said: “You may be the only Bible people read this week.” We are preaching what we believe about God’s love and compassion by our actions and ways of being in the world.

ONE THING I LEARNED FROM MY WORK AS A HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN is that there will be moments when everyone will say or do something unhelpful, despite good intentions. Each of us is called to risk making mistakes in the service of love.

I LOVE BEING NEAR WATER because I am renewed by the movement of the current, the smell of the air, the quality of the light. I experience a sense of spaciousness and become more gracious about limitations and frustrations. From my youngest memories, I have been drawn to the water. I find solace and refreshment there.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT WELCOMING is to offer our full attention to the person before us. A welcome happens when we notice people, greet them, and listen to their stories. In a busy, noisy and unsettled world, it is a blessing when we are caring enough to stop, make eye contact, and truly listen.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT SUNDAYS AT TRINITY is the beautiful mixture of spontaneity and choreography. There is the patina of so many prayers within our church walls, combining with voices, and movement, and light streaming through the windows. Within this energy and spirit, our liturgy carries us so that we may rest in moments of silence and stillness between the words and sounds and be nourished by God through our shared ritual.

A LESSON I’VE LEARNED in my various ministry settings is, at times, we need to question our instinct to give rather than to receive. Though we rightfully respond when someone is experiencing an illness or a limitation or hardship in their lives, we can unconsciously deprive them of the satisfaction and agency from being the one on the giving end. It can be the most loving act to simply receive from another what they would like to give or tell us.

THE MESSAGE AND MEDIUM OF PASTORAL CARE is beautifully characterized by Coretta Scott King, who once described Martin Luther King Jr.’s belief in “a divine, loving presence that binds all of life.” Pastoral care is the companionship, witness, touch, and ritual experienced with another person, which helps us to connect with this divine, loving presence.

MY KIDS THINK MY JOB is very cool. They feel welcome in this wonderful church community, especially as part of the choir and when serving on the altar. They are full participants in the coffee hour. The worship time on Sunday is a natural part of the rhythm of our family life—often they may be in soccer uniforms as this is part of the journey of the day. They now have a larger, extended family to notice and remember them.

WHAT MY FAMILY LIKES BEST ABOUT NEW YORK is being able to walk everywhere—to the store, to play ball, to see friends, to go to school and church—and being closer to my brother who lives in Brooklyn.

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