During our most recent Monday morning intern group, we were asked what we thought was most helpful about CPE. My answer was exceptionally specific, and I hadn’t expected it to be so heartfelt, so I was surprised to hear myself relay the raw and honest emotions evoked by this one encounter with a child and his mother. This was my answer:
” I think it’s possible to narrow everything I’ve experienced in CPE: the raw and the holy, the earthy and the sacred, the beautiful and the devastating, God’s presence and God’s absence down to a single encounter I had late one night, with an 11 year old boy and his mother. I did what I knew to do, and prayed as she asked me to – all I can hope is that I was a good chaplain. In that moment, in that room, the wisdom of a cognitively limited 11 year old boy transcended pastoral authority, social definitions of intelligence, and a dismal prognosis.
In the room, overtly clinical and subdued, the sacred came close to me as he ministered to me instead. When I think of my time in CPE, I think of that encounter and how beautiful it was to get to represent hope in the midst of deep sadness – and I think this one will probably stay with me, forever. “