Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thus Far: The Middle of the CPE Program

I am in an extended unit of CPE. Here is my first post on the subject as a refresher. When I came into the program, I was very nervous and unsure of what to expect. The hospital culture seemed very foreign to me. Everything had its place and life was regulated and if I messed up, a whole slew of legal issues would come down on me. Coming off of a parish internship, I felt that I was too theoretical and too apt to preach. Now I think the hospital is a great place. It provides a window to the community that it resides in. It is also the place where faiths sustain people or break apart under the weight of the situation. For a person to fully heal there must be a physical as well as a spiritual healing. I feel more like a pastor now more than ever. I am blessed to hear the stories of those I meet and to walk with them a while on their journeys.

I am learning that I pick up on theories and frameworks naturally. I feel like this is my gift. I am able to sit with people and listen to the system they are using. What are they holding? What frames are they using to interpret life? Once I figure this out I then see how they feel about these frames. If it is working, I don't bother messing with it no matter how I personally feel about it. If they are Wiccan, Gnostic, Fundamentalist Christian or what have you, I’ll use what they give me and go from there. If they are having trouble, I introduce a new idea and see what they do with it. This role of "idea-planter" gives the patient to openly consider and articulate things they are already feeling as well as permission to fully explore these feelings and ideas. I am learning how to translate theory into practice in ways that people can hear without getting overwhelmed. Philosophers are able to take something simple and make it complex, I’m becoming more an artist which takes complex things and make them simple. What I’m learning is invaluable and feel like I’m not leaving near as many people confused as I did at my internship.

I have also learned that I haven't always been too aware of my feeling spent or not. With school work, reading, CPE, parenting, and various other activities, I'm realizing that I have just a little bit on my plate. Usually I would keep at it, grinding the work out, but in this line of work, I really can't do that. One must be very conscious of their boundaries in the pastoral care setting. I will have to learn how to trust a group to accomplish a goal and have patience in the process. I can’t do everything nor should I.

All in all, there has been great growth for me at CPE. I absolutely love it although it is a GIANT time consumer... makes me miss my wife and daughter.

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