Starting Out Right

Kneeling-at-the-cross[1]A few years ago, I took a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) course at the local hospital. It was a one year course teaching and experiencing chaplaincy. In the beginning of the journey, I learned a very important lesson that completely changed my appreciation of prayer and meditation. On this particular day, I started the routine as I had before by getting the list of consults, and then calling on the floor I was assigned. But something was wrong… I felt like something was missing. As I reflected back on the experience, I realized that I hadn’t gotten straight with God before I started doing His work. I had been pretty sure of myself, depending on my own strengths and forgot that it all comes from Him. That particular day I experienced my first code blue. It’s amazing how many people descend on the patient and the shock and grief in the wife’s face… her husband was supposed to go home that day. I just watched a seasoned chaplain be a servant to her. His presence helped her through a tough time. The patient lived. I observed. I pondered this fragile life we live. I went back later and asked the nurse if she was OK… it had occurred right after she had pulled out a tube… she said she was fine. I reassured her that we were there for her too. The staff really needed our presence… maybe more than the patients…

So when I arrived the next time, I checked in, got the consults, took care of the office stuff and then went straight to the chapel to pray! What a difference that prayer and meditation made! The whole time went a lot smoother and I was a lot more centered and able to care for people in a much deeper way. I got to encourage one of the other CPE interns who worried about having the right words. I shared with them that I took peace in knowing that God helps interpret… thank goodness. I think it helped. Opportunities abounded around me to help people where they were… my awareness seemed to be much more acute that day. I got to practice just sitting and being quiet, being a servant, praying with a family in a very difficult time, not getting sucked into family issues and being a communicator with the staff. I think this is what it is about. Nothing heroic, spectacular, no heaven opening prayers or epiphanies… just meeting and helping people in their time of difficulty… being the skin, the warm body on earth for God… helping them experience His love and grace. What a fascinating journey… much easier and simpler beginning and fully depending on God.

Working first on our relationship with God… our vertical relationship… makes all the difference in the world. He alone is our source of strength, words, love, care, patience, wisdom…
When have you experienced the peace and strength in depending solely on God?