I speak confidently when I pray to God for guidance in my ministry. I am for almost all purposes a caregiver, seeking guidance from God, my CPE supervisor, CFP supervisor, and my extern team, as a care-seeker. I find this situation somehow very comforting. For most of my life, I have not recognized the importance of care giving and care seeking. The definition of importance has evolved for me; I have grown in recognizing important to mean working in relationship with others to address the spiritual and inter-relational reasons placing me in a position to visit, listen, and emphatically respond. I think it is important to recognize that I have a gift, a beautiful God given gift, which shines light from my relationship with God and God’s existence in me. If I truly believe that my relationship with God guided me to this ministry in Chaplaincy, then I must believe that God would not abandon me in this ministry. Knowledge that God is with me opens up the possibility of forming a reality that this ministry is joy fulfilling.
I have spent my time wisely these past four months reflecting about my formation as a Catholic, Christian, academic, and chaplain. I was confident from the beginning of my natural ability to establish rapport; however, I did know I might have some difficulty with assessing my own bias, and the wordless expressions in body language that telegraph these feelings. My complete attention and presence to a care seeker has been enhanced through my opportunity to reflect on my own theological process, biases, and the twirling wheel of emotions that accompany loss. This has revealed many stabilizing supports in the tools that I am gathering and developing in methods of communication. I have empathy that emerges through my natural existence and state. Compassion, I have learned, goes hand in hand with my ability to relate to others. Because of CPE, I have a vocabulary to put with ideas and interactions. My compassionate actions are a gift that I am learning to use quietly, with reverence for others, so that I may assess their feelings. A paradigm shift has occurred in my thinking and behavior.
Regardless of the paradigm shift, other truths must be at work in order for me to feel the connection with God through ministering in a medical setting. What I have come to know (epignosis) is that I am to be myself in this ministry. I am a faulted individual with a few idiosyncratic behaviors and thoughts. But, it is those very thoughts that allow me to be me. My uniqueness shapes the way in which I am able to respond. Each individual that I am to be present to and possibly minister to offers a challenge for me. My need is to overcome my fear, and trust that I fulfill my promise to the Holy Spirit of passing along the Lord’s compassion in gifts given. I choose to be a Chaplain that has the personal authority to listen, to reflect, and to respond with compassion. It is the compassionate choice to be with patients, family, and staff. The compassion, however, does not end with what I give, but it is truly in the receiving that my gift given in fullness to others and theirs to me is an offering in glory to God. The fullness of giving and receiving fills my need for joy in living out my mission in ministry. As academically lofty as that sounds, it is just the systematic way that I process relationship in theology. Practical theology tells me that this is a reality, that an imperfect minister is capable of bringing perfect love through emphatic and compassionate conversation. I like the reality of this theological process.