Be Helpful? A Lesson from Chaplain Internship—and More

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 27, 2014

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Be Helpful? A Lesson from Chaplain Internship—and More

I feel strongly about chaplaincy. One of the foundation stones for my whole ministry is that of pastoral care, ministry of presence, and journeying alongside of those who are hurting in any way. I have spent more than ten years in the ministry of chaplaincy, in a variety of settings. And, I’ve spent a goodly portion of these years serving in internships, as well.

Today, I was vividly reminded of a situation where I needed some advice. Some discernment. I couldn’t help but be reminded of several times in the past, in my various chaplain internships. I have been blessed in my internships, in three different clinical settings. All three have involved cohesive, collaborative groups of interns. I understand from others that not every group is so fortunate. So, I do consider myself blessed by the groups. In addition, I was blessed even more with my chaplain supervisors! Each one, though different from each other, was effective, supportive, and engaging to the interns separately, as well as in the group.

I thought of a specific instance in my latest chaplain internship unit, at a downtown hospital in Chicago. Chaplain Peter was our supervisor, and he directed and facilitated the group with a light hand. Yet—he was present. Very present to all of us. To each of us. He led by compassionate, loving example, and I learned to take cautions and negative comments as well as positive ones, contain them, prayerfully consider them, and seriously and objectively take them to heart.

Not that I hadn’t had some experience and direction at how to take correction as well as compliments before, in chaplaincy, in various internships, and just in life, in general. But with Chaplain Peter, both the clinical and the classroom learning seemed upped to a graduate level and beyond. Serious learning! No kindergarten-level learning there.

My mind drew a direct parallel between that learning experience and a situation today. I got a long distance telephone call out of the clear blue sky, and even when I hung up, I was in a quandary. Really, earnestly puzzled at what to do. I wondered and thought and prayed. Still needed assistance and advice. I turned to a Facebook page where a number of women ministers, clergy, chaplains and other women of faith join together in support, camaraderie and fellowship. (This is an international group, too!) I have been following this page for some months, and I noted the wide-ranging and varied comments were often helpful, sometimes pointed, and always informative.

All right, I thought. I am really in a quandary. So—I posted a brief explanation of the telephone call. I asked for comments, suggestions, even advice. And, boy! Did I get a response! In a matter of minutes, I received so many helpful, informative comments and suggestions.

I was suddenly, vividly reminded of what I learned, sitting in that chaplain’s classroom in downtown Chicago. I was moved to take these current cautions and comments as well as positive ones, contain them, prayerfully consider them, and seriously and objectively take them to heart. Just so, God tied these two situations together in my mind. What a moving connection. Thanks, God. Help me take these comments and suggestions I received tonight to heart, sincerely. As sincerely as these were offered.

@chaplaineliza

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Wow! Be Present, Be Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, April 1, 2014

never forget how you made people feel

Wow! Be Present, Be Kind

Here we are at April 1st. I was sort of thinking of writing an April Fool’s Day blog post, but I nixed that idea. Instead, I wanted to continue with documenting my intentional service to others today. Besides, one fourth of the year has passed already. It’s amazing that I have found service opportunities to post about, each day of the year so far.

These past three months have been different. I mean, for the past few years, I’ve been concerned with—myself, with the inner “me.” But since I have been actively looking—searching—for some kind of intentional kindness I can get involved in, it seems my life has changed. Altered. Not markedly, but definitely. When I step back and consider how I’m doing and how I am getting there (wherever that is!), I shake my head in disbelief and amusement. God has some sense of humor!

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a get-together. Some friends of mine had started already, and I arrived a little late. But that was okay! I still felt quite comfortable, and everyone was very welcoming. However, being late to the event caused me to be a little shy. Quiet. I did actively listen, though! I have spoken here before, about being a “professional listener.” That’s a large part of working as a chaplain—listening. And, being present with people, with my less-anxious, gentle attitude and atmosphere. In retrospect, I suppose I acted as a chaplain with my friends. Or, is it a gentle, caring listener, instead?

Even though I’ve changed my focus with the change in my job, I’m still involved in pastoral care. So, I am still listening. (Professionally speaking, of course.) This reminds me of my totally awesome chaplain supervisor, Chaplain Peter. He is (and has been, for a number of years) the intern supervisor and Manager of Pastoral Services at a large hospital in downtown Chicago. His manner of being with people and listening to them with such attentiveness still amazes me—and this memory comes from many months ago. (I want to be like Chaplain Peter when I grow up!)

After the get-together this morning broke up, one of my friends asked my opinion on some things that were talked about. I was glad to put my two-cents’-worth in. And, I showed that I had been listening intently. Actively. I showed the gathering my caring and love, for sure, even though I spoke very little.

Sometimes, it’s not necessary to talk, talk, talk. Empty chatter is just that—empty and not worth very much at all. As Chaplain Peter has shown me time and again, a kind, gentle, quiet presence can be felt deeply. And, appreciated, too! What a way to be kind. What a way to be of service.

@chaplaineliza
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