I stopped by the hospital yesterday to visit a parishioner after her surgery. Nothing uncommon in the world of pastoring. Nor was the response I received when I stopped by the nurses’ station. The conversation went as follows:
Male Nurse: Are you family?
Me: No, I’m her pastor.
Male Nurse: You can’t be her pastor.
(Yes I catch the irony that a male nurse finds female pastors to be an aberration.)
Female Nurse: Don’t say that.
Male Nurse: I don’t mean to be rude–but they don’t make female pastors. What is she a priestess? (Looking at me) I don’t want to offend you.
Me: I’m not offended. As a young female clergy person, I’ve heard a lot worse. (I’m thinking at least this guy is honest. I prefer this conversation to the looks, smiles, and funny head nods that I receive)
Male Nurse: But what do they call you?
Female Nurse: Pastor.
Male Nurse: I mean like a title.
Female Nurse and Male Dr.: Good answer.
Male Nurse: (a little stupefied) Seriously?…
Me: Well, the congregation calls me pastor. But I’ve been through seminary and the ordination process, so in official settings, I am in fact titled the Reverend.
Male Nurse: I think they should call you priestess.
Me: I think I’ll stick with pastor for now.