First Day of Chaplaincy

 June 4th

Chaplaincy has begun, on day one, and it’s already intense.  I am going to love chaplaincy and I’m going to be very afraid of it.  The responsibility looms – how do I minister to people in grief, in pain, in suffering, and not add to that grief or pain or suffering, inadvertently?  That is my biggest fear.  I’ve heard horror stories of chaplains saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, not noticing that they increased the pain instead of helping.  As we found out today, we are here to learn.  It was amazing to see the 4 others in my group, all of us of different faiths, one Catholic, one Lutheran, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, and me the all encompassing Unitarian Universalist.  I will definitely learn from all of them. 

We began the morning, after a wonderful breakfast of bagels, fruit, doughnuts ( I skipped those) and coffee with a spiritual practice to begin our time together.  How wonderful ritual is!  I am appreciating more and more the sacredness of ritual.   We blessed each other on our new journey and appreciated all the special gifts we each contribute.  Oh if only the rest of the world could be this kind to each other.  To appreciate and acknowledge that everyone has special talents and weaknesses, that will enrich the world with our unique combination of life experiences.  If only we could see each other in this way on a daily basis.  I hope I thrive here.  I hope I gain insight and love.

We toured one of the hospitals, we’re going to be picking our choice of units later this week, and we are eventually touring all of them.  I learned terms I hadn’t heard before.  Fetal demise.  We may be encountering fetal demise.  This campus deals with many births on a daily basis and some of them – even though it’s a small amount – will not end in joy.  And yet we are told, we will know what to say, the Divine will guide us.  I hope so.  I sincerely hope so.  We were shown the viewing room of the morgue, where the possibility exists that I will have to accompany a family to see a family member for the last time.  Hospitals seem to hold more grief than joy. 

And yet, there are staff members there who devote their entire lives to serving the sick and the grief-stricken.  We are there for them too.  I never took advantage of these services when my parents died, when my aunt died, when I saw friends in the hospital before they passed away.  I’m not sure if I just never knew  or – back in the day – I didn’t feel very spiritual.  There are chapels in hospitals and I think in the back of my mind I knew this, but I never visited there when I was in my own grief.

We are here to learn about ourselves, to gain insight into what our past experiences will contribute to assisting those in need, whether it is negatively or positively, I will learn about me.  I heed the warnings of issues that may come up for me regarding patients or colleagues and how I will deal with these emotions.  Quoting Bette Davis, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

But I’m up for it. May it be so.

From my little piece of Mayberry,

Jo