It was like a scene from Grey's Anatomy . . . medical terminology and acronyms flying everywhere and directives on how to deal with patients, families, doctors and deceased bodies. Soon I would be staring in my own episodes each week. This was my first day of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) . . . my orientation to serving as a chaplain for the next 14 weeks at Grady Hospital, where I will find myself in various situations . . . being at the side of those in distress and despair . . . helping to make decisions over life and death . . . and praying all the while that the right words will come when I need them.
As I walked the halls to gain familiarity with what is located on each floor . . . across the street . . . . and around various corners, I was struck once again with what this experience would entail. It would require me to be transparent, particularly with my colleagues as we discuss weekly our experiences and reactions to encounters. It would require me to use the same tools I employed to produce a good story with myself. My time in CPE would require I do investigative work on me.
This was the first day to fully coming to know more about myself . . . and frankly it was all overwhelming. There is nothing fun about doing deep introspection on one's self . . . but it is necessary. Many who have traveled this path of CPE says that it will make be a better minister . . . . more competent . . . more sensitive to the needs of others . . . and more understanding of the other. . . and more knowledgeable about myself. As I shared with my supervisor, I'm not quite sure what to quite expect from this experience outside of the tears that have already began to flow from the heaviness of the day and the weight of my responsibilities.
I heard someone say of the experience that it is about learning to tell my story and learning to navigate what it true for me. That makes sense. Once I learn my own story then it will be easier to guide others to theirs and help them too, speak their truth.
116 days to graduation and counting . . .