Some of us in ministry chose to go through something akin to pastoral boot camp called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE); I did an intensive 10-week internship at a 600-bed hospital and was responsible for oncology/blood disorders, medical intensive care, and the prison secure ward (when on-call I had the entire hospital).The pastoral minister, sometimes a green neophyte pastor-in-training is thrust into dramatic and sometimes critical existential situations of life and death; the intern is forced to grapple with his/her deepest anxieties. I chose an intensive program rather than the once-a-week program because it was a more instructive exposure and I could establish relationships with patients, staff, and families. In those 10 weeks my values and attitudes toward lie and suffering, birht and death, courage and fear surfaced. Having completed chaplaincy training was an incredibly insightful and extraordinarily valuable experience and it gave new meaning to my understanding of my own faith traditions and my theology and pastoral ministrie. But one of the most important insights was the ministry of helping others, reaching out and offering compassion. It wasn’t a “helping” as in the case of another being helpless but in the sense of a sort of midwife helping in a birth; the mother can do it on her own, sure, but the presence of the midwife is a ‘help.” In fact, in German widwife is translated Geburtshelfer, “birth helper.”
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