I love to read! I just finished Jan Karon's book Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good where the reader has more adventures with Father Tim in Mitford.
There is a scene in the book when Coot's mother died. A neighbor calls Father Tim to come in the midst of a major snowstorm. Nothing but snowplows are moving, and Coot lives too far away to walk.
So Father Tim actually rides the snowplow until he is close enough to "plow" through the 15-inch snow on his own. When Father Tim arrives, Jan Karon writes:
Seminary didn’t teach specifically about consoling the
bereaved; that was something that came with on-the-job training. … Mostly, he
was simply there, a warm body in a sweater with a reindeer on the front. He found a tea bag and made tea and added
sugar and gave it to Coot. Then he sat next to him on the side of the bed and
held on to his old friend and didn’t let go for a long while.
That pretty much nails it! It doesn't take a seminary degree or training in counseling to be a presence of comfort! It may and often does require a great deal of effort! It does require heart! Father Tim braved a blizzard to get to Coot so he can BE that presence!
I have a sister and brother-in-law* (*spelled brother-in-love) who are caring for his aged father who is deeper into his dementia every day. It's not easy! It is exhausting! It requires loss of sleep, constant diligence, energy that might feel like it has got-up-and-when, and presence to be the hand, feet, and heart of Jesus for another person! They are walking that walk because they can and because they must! Someone is depending on them in big ways and small! And they love that man. They are willing to give new meaning to sitting next to him on the side of his bed. They hold onto him and don't let go for a very long time - as long as it takes!