Friday, April 3, 2015

Being a Chaplain

A couple of weeks ago Genelle Pugmire, from Utah's Daily Herald, interviewed a group of LDS women who are chaplains.

Her article was published today, and it is here:

While this article focused on LDS women, I was disheartened to read a Facebook comment by Paul Rogers, "Aye, and their alterior motif  is to get members as their programmed to do under the mind control of their male leaders. I wouldn't let them anywhere near my family." (All spelling and grammar errors are Paul's.)

And since I am off Facebook, my response is here:
"Dear Mr. Rogers, I would like to invite you to my house for a cup of Pero, maybe have a piece of banana bread. Let's have a visit. Let's chat about spirituality, and then when you are ready to leave, I will ask you one question - to which are you now converted - Mormonism or chaplaincy?"

Good Night Irene - biases, stereotypes, blindness - we are so afraid of new or different, that we often shut the door on having amazing experiences.

I helped a family on Monday whose baby died. They asked for a chaplain - I hustled to the ER to be with them. I hugged, held hands, found a safe space outside for them to smoke, wiped tears, covered them in warm blankets, moved folks from one room to the next, directed family traffic, answered questions. Not once did someone ask me my religion, not once did anyone ask what group I represented, not once. Instead - the grandmother said, "You were here with me 3 years ago when my son died. I am so grateful you are here today. I recognized you, and I know you can be of comfort to us."

I helped 20 clients this week, all in various stages of recovery. We talked about the value of knowing our stories, knowing how to tell them, when, where, and how to be safe with our stories - and how to move forward, knowing we are the masters of our own ships. I quoted St. Francis of Assisi, "For it is in the giving that we receive."

This Sunday's Easter sermon will be on hope, spring, beginnings. No hellfire and damnation, no guilt, no converting.

That's it - chaplaincy isn't about me!!! My role is to watch, listen, be engaged, and be present. I serve - whether it's through lessons, holding hands, conversations, hugs. It's about being a comforting presence to those I serve.

“Service is a smile. It is an acknowledging wave, a reaching handshake, a friendly wink, and a warm hug. It's these simple acts that matter most, because the greatest service to a human soul has always been the kindness of recognition.” —Richelle E. Goodrich 

I am blessed.

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