Emma, Thank you so much for your candor. When I did CPE, I kept wanting to be paged to the ER (I never was, in CPE, or later as a volunteer hospital chaplain) but my great teacher came in the form of a seven-year-old non-verbal child whose silence taught me grace. I learned my calling was not to the ER or big trauma, but to a ministry of presence to those wading in still waters to companion them into eddies of deeper meaning. As much as I thrummed to your essay/post, I loved even more your line about prayer because I say all the time "I live my life as a prayer" or "my life is the prayer." Sometimes the prayer is vocal, sometimes silent. Sometimes a dirge, sometimes hallelujah, sometimes a stumble or splat and sometimes a leap of faith into the arms of grace. CPE taught me the words of the prayer matter far less than our presence in it. And I love that our breath is God's breath. My friend from CPE says we are the lungs of God. I invoke Ruach Ha-olam, the Breath of the Universe for that reason. Lastly, I love everything you said about the bible and God and how chaplaincy is not a theological exercise. I found in jail chaplaincy where many chaplains are hellbent on evangelizing, the practice of presence and embodied compassion are what occasion the metaphor of a syllable we utter as God.
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