CPE: Another journey begins …

The first day of Clinical Pastoral Education brought a couple of happy surprises and some familiar fears: all told, a good day of intention and grace.

You might think someone who’s completed undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees would be through with formal education — and I kind of thought I was — but no. I don’t know whether I’m filling a gap, retooling, or getting ready for what’s next, but that’s all right. It’s going to be a Matthew 25:40 kind of summer. I will be glad to be of use.

One of the happy surprises was that we chaplain interns are paired with chaplain residents who are already working on the hospital units we are assigned to. Another happy surprise was the degree of forethought and organization our CPE supervisor has put into preparing the materials and plan for our orientation and the summer’s work. It feels reassuring to have landed in such capable hands, on both counts.

Which is good, because there’s a lot about this summer that gives me some anxiety: just being in a hospital is hard (right?), meeting new people is hard, practicing imperfectly in order to learn is hard, and — as I discovered yesterday — there are a lot of scheduling, reporting, and beeper management issues to stay on top of. I do feel like I need to go from 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds.

And of course, I can’t.

So, here’s the thing. Among all the other things I’m going to learn this summer, one of the things I want to learn is this: how to stop getting in my own way. I don’t want to think about that prickly feeling I get when I know I have to meet someone new, the one that I label “introvert.” I want to get better at the shift to being available to someone else in a way that lets God make of me what that person needs in that moment.

That’s about all I know right now. But that’s probably enough.

Later this week, when we are handed the white jackets that say “chaplain” over our hearts, may it be so.

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5 Responses to CPE: Another journey begins …

  1. Helen says:

    You are indeed into a great adventure. CPE works best for those like you, with open hearts, ready to learn, not only the beepers and other mechanics, but to allow the hard things–suffering, crises, loss–in the patients and themselves, to transform. And there are healings and discoveries to celebrate. Have a blessed summer.

  2. Shugie says:

    I will wish you good luck, although I know you won’t need it! You already possess the characteristics and kindness a hospital chaplain needs. Let it be more a learning experience for you and don’t worry too much about what you will say to someone, you will know, God will see to it. You will find that the patients and families will fill your heart give you your own blessings.
    Bless you on your new journey and bless your heart for all you already give to people.

  3. Blessings. I hope this is an exciting summer for you.

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