Henk de Roest
Protestant Theological University, Leiden

A pastor tells, and I quote:  ‘She brings up a present that she got from me and has given to someone else since she considered it a good thing to do so. A little cross that she had asked for earlier, while she added that she did not believe. And then, all of a sudden,  when we are about to say goodbye: ‘Can you give me 10 Euro?’ ‘No’, I say slightly surprised. And while we look at eachother she continues: ‘You should say: No, bitch!’ We burst into laughter. Then there is silence. ‘What do you have for me?’ she asks. ‘Nothing at this moment’, I say, but I add: ‘A blessing’. (I have not done or said anything like this to her, because she once told me that she does not believe in ‘God nor in any commandment’. ‘Ah, yes, yes, that is something you had to say’, she says with a sigh, laughing again. I take her hands in mine and hesitating, with the blessing of St. Patrick at a distance, I say: ‘If there is a Spirit, if there is someone, a Present Being, a God, Someone who sees us, let It be here, and let it be with you, going before you as a Light, a Perspective, let it be above you as a protecting Hand on your head, under you as a solid ground under your feet, behind you as a support in your back, besides you as you are yourself a fellow neighbor to others. So be it.’ She hugs me. We thank each other, she for the conversation and I for the reprimand.´ End quote. 
This encounter demands a common withdrawal in a safe place, in order to continue one’s journey. This moment does not bear a sharp publicity, but asks to be guarded. We hear biblical language, there are no general phrases about the divine, but the pastor names God who surrounds a vulnerable human being, gives support and indicates direction. The pastor does not speak about God but out of the connection with the God who expresses himself in Scripture.  

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