Once you get two or three weeks into a summer program, the students' initial excitement usually starts to get displaced by feelings of exhaustion (and sometimes doubts about whether they will be able to
Our students are no exception to this. These four folks have been working so hard. Not only have they seen a lot of patients, but they've experienced many of the toughest calls you can find within a hospital's walls, including ministering to people amid sudden and tragic deaths.
It's incredibly rewarding work they're doing, but also profoundly exhausting and overwhelming. As one of them said, today, "I don't want to feel anything more."
Anyone who has ever been a chaplain knows this kind of feeling. Chaplaincy, for all of its rewards of being able to be close to people amid their most intimate thoughts and moments, is no rose garden. The key to survival is to be able to have the courage and strength to do what this student did, today: put your pastoral "macho" aside and admit to someone -- someone who is capable of truly hearing it -- that you've given all you can give for now.
Like my students, I am profoundly exhausted here in the third week. But, somehow, I also remain tremendously excited (and even, as you can see, have the energy to blog about my experience!). I love the kind of learning we do in CPE and it's such an incredible privilege to be a part of these students' intense experience and to hear of their struggles, hopes and dreams. I am awed at their heart and the genuineness of their efforts.
I am so grateful to הקדוש ברוך הוא for taking me to this place.
By the way, if you're interested in reading about some summer CPE students' experiences, "Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside" has collected some links to some student chaplain bloggers here.