Entry #22: Hide & Seek!
With INTENSITY,1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6,7, 8,9,10, ready or not, here I come! This was an exciting childhood game that I played for many years. The art of hiding and not getting caught was the major theme of the game. It also included running so that you wouldn’t get tagged if you were found. Clinical Pastoral Care Education training is a lot like the hide and seek game. It is where one is challenged/tagged in the making of an effective hospital chaplain takes place. To be hidden, means, “kept out of sight; concealed,” (Oxford Dictionary, 2021). To be hidden to be trained to serve others when one is sick, ill, injured, encountered trauma, or dying. It is a calling, a willingness to embrace a stranger in one of their most sensitive and vulnerable moments in life, suffering moments. We attempt to provide comfort, support, pastoral/spiritual care, but most of all we provide the gift of God’s presences from the Christian faith tradition.
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:
in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set
me up upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5, KJV)
Hiding things of value can be an important aspect of protecting what is important to you. As a chaplain the art of hiding so that one can seek in strength to serve is a valuable state of being. In chaplaincy one trains continually through learning about others faith traditions and cultural influences, this can be priceless. We care to serve compassionately, empathically, and skillfully, so that you will be comfortable within your state of vulnerability. We serve in a posture of empowerment, yet with gentleness as we sensitively listen without judgement. I had a consult with a Muslim Imam, patient that surprised me with several opportunities to discuss my faith tradition with him, during his 3-week hospital stay.
Our 1st encounter included putting down our barriers, so that we could learn about one another. He was very interested in learning about me and my role as a hospital chaplain. He began our conversation by inviting me to stay and sit with him awhile. He had two women serving and attending to him. They didn’t speak a word as they tended him, they were covering/wrapping him in these very fine linen sheets that didn’t come from the hospital. He told them to leave the room and close the door. They quickly obeyed him and bowed to him as they left us alone to chat. And then he looked at me as he began to tell me that he had at one time in his life had been a Christian. We started chatting, he asked me so many questions that required me to answer him with scriptures. He would smile when I responded to him with the word of God. He would even finish them or sight where it was from in the Bible that I was quoting.
I learned later from a Muslim Chaplain colleague, that this was very rare for an Imam to have audience with a female, even more rare a female clergy. She provided me with some very valuable information and protocol to follow the next time that I visited him. I had told her that he wanted to see me again while he was in the hospital. So, I arranged to see him on my days I had classes during my lunch hours. It really become an in-depth good challenge for me to be open and answer some of his deep spiritual questions. I even had to ponder and research some of them to answer him. Yet, I did it, and I enjoyed it. Each time I came, his attended would immediately leave the room during my next two visits with him. By our third and final visit, it was as if we were two old friends chatting. I learned so many wonderful things about his faith tradition and culture. It was such a rich exchange!
The reality of this moment included providing him with spiritual care through listening and answering his questions about whatever he wanted to discuss with me. He also learned more about my faith tradition and training, also. It was through our conversations that I learned about his Christian experience. He had been in the hospital for 3 weeks and on our 3rd and final visit he told me that he was going be discharged the next day. And here is what blew my mind. He asked me to pray for him, YES, he asked me to pray for him. He reached his hand out of his crisp white linen sheets that were wrapped ever so neatly, for me to pray for him. So, I took his hand and I prayed with him. When I closed the prayer, he looked at me with such a warm smile and thanked me for our time that we had spent together. I never once share that I was giving up my lunch time to provide him with pastoral care. Although, by the second visit it felt like I was talking to an old friend, our different faith traditions were discussed but not challenged. There was such mutual respect for one another’s faith and cultural differences. Our spiritual encounters were mutually open without judgment. He wasn’t trying to change me, and my only interest was to spiritually service him. This was what took place between us during our 3 hospital visits.
1st and most importantly, I was given this precious opportunity to experience interaction with a very open gentle gracious, Imam patient. This enriched me, I felt privilege to have experienced this moment with him. I also enjoyed our conversations even though they challenged me at times with wanting to make sure that I was giving him the right answers or the answers that he needed. It's also important to note that there was know judgmental interactions between us. I used scripture when it was laid on my heart and necessary for my responses. With a smile on my face as I now recall this encounter, I realize now that he might have been testing me bit with some of his questions and the start of a scripture that I would finish. Wow, very cleaver, he absolutely knew bible scriptures, too. Oh, what a joy I had serving him!
Finally, as I reflect on the needs for intercessory prayer for this Imam. One is called to pray and/or stand in the gap for the needs of others. We don’t decide who or who shouldn’t be prayed for. That is not our job, a believer and/or non-believer has the right to be prayed for know matter what the circumstances. We are given a tremendous gift and opportunity to serve others through hospital chaplaincy. May we never forget, that we serve within one’s life’s most vulnerable scary moments such as, illness, injury, trauma, and/or death to support them through it. So, hide and seek to train if you must, to make a difference in the lives of each other and this world through intercession, empathy, and being a compassionate comforting presence in time of need. Count the cost if you must before you take on the calling of spiritual/pastoral care, it is know joke, but a privilege. Remember that, each one, should reach one!
Here’s a sneak preview, “I’ll be Seeing, You!” Until next time.
For the sake of the Chaplain’s healing, CALL!
Chaplain Jacqueline M. Pressey, Ed.D.