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.