Saturday, June 14, 2008

CPE Impressions

A week of orientation and a more-or-less regular week behind us.

More or less ~ because one of our little cadre of CPE interns collapsed and died of a heart attack while on call last week-end. To say that people in our program and across the hospital are stunned and, in many cases, devastated, would be an inadequate observation.

And yet, of course, as we all know, life continues.

I am borderline ecstatic to be back in a diverse community. Last week one of the family members with whom I spoke was Buddhist, talking through a Japanese interpreter. A Jewish woman agreed that I might pray with her before her surgery ~ trying to be polite, I am sure ~ and then looked pleasantly surprised and expressed genuine gratitude when the words that came out of my mouth were, apparently, peace-inspiring rather than offensive. Christians describe every kind of belief and practice, or lack thereof, across the spectrum. I feel a profound sense of privilege to be present to so many people who are themselves in so many places of spiritual engagement.

I expressed my surprise yesterday at how quickly and completely people often open up to us, and it was pointed out to me that folks are often much more willing to speak candidly with a strangers than with say, their own pastors. Of course, I thought to myself. How else to eplain my intentional seeking of spiritual directors who differ from me in gender, religion, lifetime committments? Over time they cease being strangers, but I trust them with things I would be unlikely to share in my own community.

And on the subject of chaplaincy care and spiritual direction: I am SO glad that I was pushed into this. Yes, I tried to get out of it -- not because I was disinterested, but because time and money are in short supply and I knew that next year in my spiritual direction practicum I will be doing similar work -- meeting with a supervisor, writing verbatims, exploring my own reactions. I had no idea that hospital chaplaincy would afford me a completely different experience. (Duh.) People who seek spiritual direction are already engaged in a religious journey of some depth; they have to initiate the process, after all. In the hospital, however, I am the one taking the first step, and I am often meeting with people who may have never given much thought to the spiritual dimension of their lives, or think about it in ways other than my own, or have no interest in thinking about it at all. They each call for something different from me, and nudge me to develop skills distinct from those required for addressing the needs of people with whom I share an experience of faith.

I think this is going to be an incredible summer.

And now ~ I am going to the funeral service which is also a part of everything.

9 comments:

Diane said...

(gg)

Stratoz said...

peace be with you

Lisa :-] said...

Robin, you have such a rich, ecumenical range of spiritual experience. This sort of chaplaincy internship is perfect for you. I think you will be pleased with how much growth you experience over the summer, and yet, how competent you already are in the field...

peripateticpolarbear said...

I can't BELIEVE someone in your CPE group died in the hospital while on call. Unbelievable. Woah.

Mark Smith said...

Wow.

My prayers are with you and your CPE group, and the family of the deceased.

Mary Beth said...

Great God Almighty. What an amazing thing to have happen to you and your CPE group.

Love your writing about the experience. You're in my prayers.

mompriest said...

CPE can be one of those amazing experiences that continues to feed you long after you finish the "course"...so glad you are taking it....

and, well, wow...it is so sad, incredulous, numbing, that one of your own died in CPE while on call...woa...

Kathryn J said...

These people are fortunate to have you in the hospital during difficult times. So sad about the person in your group.

An interesting observation about community and privacy. I completely agree.

What does CPE stand for?

LawAndGospel said...

Just catching up on my reading.
((0)). I pray you will be enriched and your faith deepened in this process. And I pray for your group in the time ahead.