Thursday, June 14, 2007

Automotive, Again

Tomorrow morning, God willing, I will end my two-week fast from a car-using existence. I need to drive as part of my education -- every two weeks I go to an all-day meeting in Philadelphia of other aspiring chaplaincy educators (supervisors-in-training). Our meetings take a form that would be fairly familiar to anyone doing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) -- we have a peer group meeting, a lecture and seminars where we get a chance to present our work with students to our peers and supervisors for their feedback, as well as a chance to review relevant books we are reading.

I wasn't able to make the last meeting, so I am looking forward to seeing my peers, again, after a month or so.

Tomorrow will also mark the end of week 3 of the 11 week summer program I have been co-supervising. It has been another great -- and exhausting! -- week. I continue to be awed by the efforts of our students and by their commitment to the learning process.

Some of the highlights of the week for me include the session we devoted to a discussion of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich. [See my discussion of use of literature in chaplaincy and medical education here. Also, see the study questions I created for the students.] We also had a moving session using the "Verbatim as Theological Event" method for theological reflection. I hope to write soon again to explain the Verbatim as Theological Event method and to reflect further on the relationship between Christian theological reflection and the Jewish process of Midrash.


This Shabbat we will be reading Parshat Korah, which contains the story of the great rebellion against Moses -- the great leader of the Israelite people who nonetheless struggled to express himself in words -- led by Korah, a man of fine speech.

As me and my students go about the halls of the hospital and visit patients and families in the coming week, I hope we will remember the leadership of Moses, and remember that we do not have to be like Korah (that is, a person who speaks well) to minister to people. Finely crafted words are not what makes us a comfort; rather, it's what lies in our hearts and the truthfulness of the compassion we can offer.

May it be the will of the Blessed Holy One that we will be able to find compassion in our hearts and be able to offer that to our patients -- and each other.

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