I pray the day is finding you well.
Sometimes it takes ice cream.
The Camp Collins YMCA leadership staff came into the “Y” last night; they do this every year right before the start of the camping season as they continue to team build. They show up in cars, they show up in a big school bus. The cars showed up first and then the bus. I was here to greet them and make myself available.
There was already a crowd in the lobby when the bus rolls up and stops at our front door. The door opens up and more people start coming in. One of the staff comes into the Y, looks at me, doesn’t say a word, heads into my office, and sits down.
Yesterday was one of my long days. It was a day filled with people sitting in the chair.
The chair is in my office and a place where people sit when they have a problem and need someone that will sit with them and listen.
Yesterday was filled with emotional conversations, conversations that ranged from feeling all alone and hurt, to worries about the future. I played basketball with a couple of handicapped people; I do this almost every day. I did my walk through (I call it Roger sightings.) this is where I walk through the building at different times during the day and check on staff and members, giving them an opportunity to talk with me on “their turf” and letting them know I care and am available. I was finalizing the “Holy Yoga” class that is starting soon. I held my “Life with God” class and camp started showing up just as we were ending.
I was at the front desk when the staff member walks past me into my office.
I follow her into my office, sit down, and wait; I wait for her to say what it is that is bothering her, it seems as if I do a lot of waiting as a chaplain.
She had had one of those days. A long day filled with lots of needy people that were new to camp and she was done. She was feeling frustrated and unsupported at the moment, it is a tough place to be when you do not have a place to sit and process. She got done venting: I had given her my box of Kleenex and she would talk, pull Kleenex out of the box, wipe her tears, and tell me more. She loves her job, she loves the people she works with, she loves the “Y”; she was just having one of those moments.
When she finished telling me what was bothering her I said, “Would ice cream help?”
She looked at me kind of puzzled and said, “Yes, ice cream does sound nice.”
I asked, “What kind of ice cream do you want?”
She said, “I like chocolate.”
I said, “I will be right back.”
I ran to the store and bought Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, it was the chocolatiest ice cream I could find.
When I returned she was talking with another camp staff, who had seen she was having a day and was sitting with her and comforting her. I knocked on the door, they said, “Come in.”
I came into the office, handed her the ice cream and left them alone.
I waited another 30-minutes; like I said, I do a lot of waiting as a chaplain.
I went back in to check on them.
I asked, “Are you doing better.”
She looked at me with her tear soaked cheeks, smiled, holding a spoon full of ice cream and said, “Thank you for the ice cream, it really helped.”
Sometimes when you sit with people, they are looking for an answer
Sometimes they just need someone to listen.
Sometimes they just need time alone.
And sometimes they need ice cream.
The trick is to know what they need when they need it.