I'm tired. I'm tired the way you are at the end of your CPE summer. Ministers, can I get an 'amen'?
But RevTony's post about his wonderful experiences with DBLE and HeartPaths Spirituality Centre prompt me to write. He blogs that those places were "an environment that made me feel appreciated, loved and cared for as a child of God" and that "what enables people to achieve any type of emotional and spiritual healing is that first and foremost they feel accepted, welcomed and loved...Learning can happen at anytime, but perhaps deep, internalized insight can only happen when we are loved."
Jim, who also did CPE this year, wrote about his CPE center, and his appreciation that they used a "collegial educational model, rather than believing that CPE students should be treated rather like soup ingredients that must be thoroughly chopped into small pieces before they can be of any use."
Amen, my brother.
I wound up at a center that was, from the top down, a nurturing, strengthening, affirming culture. Which didn't mean they held our hands ... no, we were thrown out into the big scary ocean straight away. But they cheered us on, answered our questions, and treated us with the respect of being full chaplains. It truly was a loving culture.
I learned, oh, how I learned. I received formation. Lots and lots of formation. I am a different, stronger minister than I was at the start of summer.
But along with that ... I did a lot of healing this summer. From those who have followed along since the cancer years, yes, a lot of healing from that time. The fact that I journeyed with my daughter through two bouts of cancer did affect my pastoral care, and many times, it was a help in connecting with patients. I am no longer resentful that the universe may, in some way, benefit from her illness. Was it worth it? No, of course not, but what does that matter? When sitting with someone hurting, needing my pastoral presence, I will use all the tools I have been given.
One of my heroes is the Rev. Fred McFeely Rogers. Also known as Mr. Rogers.
When receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmys, he used his time to ask everyone to take a moment and remember "those that loved you into being."
I feel that I had the amazing fortune to wind up in a hospital with people that helped love me into being. Come to think of it, my life has almost always had that fortune.
I hope I may do the same for others. Because I am one to whom much has been given. With love, anyway. Undeserved, unasked for. In a word, grace.