Tomorrow (Monday) I will begin CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), hospital training to become a health care chaplain. People’s reactions to my journey have been interesting. Many have said, “This is exciting and sounds like a perfect fit for you!” While others believe they are supporting me sounding alarms about difficulties that lie ahead. One person said, “Be careful what you wish for!” Another, “I don’t know why you would want to do such depressing work!” I believe these less than positive statements reflect the author’s feelings about facing personal challenges and tragedies on a daily basis, rather than my ability to respond. I also remember the words of a dear friend who stated that after a summer of CPE her husband became a better person, more in tune with himself and his emotions. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and experiencing firsthand acts of healing, moments of courage and instances of delight in a hospital setting. I suspect I will encounter a wide spectrum of experiences during my internship; I will be challenged by life and I will tune into a cornucopia of my emotions.
In an email exchange with Father Michael Phalger, a Roman Catholic priest on the south side of Chicago, who works with those impacted by gun violence, I asked how he responses to these situations. He said, “I let the spirit guide me.” This advice is a perfect reminder as I start CPE the day after Pentecost that I don’t need to be in control or try to fix the conditions I will encounter. I just need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s response to each situation.
So my prayer for these summer months will be:
Come Holy Spirit and dwell in me as I journey with humanity in these twist and turns of life. Enter each room ahead of me and show me how to use the gifts you’ve given me for each hour. Fill the space with comfort for those who grieve, grace for those in despair and joy for new and renewed lives. I make this prayer in the name of the triune God, Amen.