I went back to the health center to have TB test #2 placed and was assisted again by the LVN with the daunting schedule. He inquired about my weekend and I about his—he and his girlfriend went to Renaissance Faire. Now I really feel exhausted. On top of all he does, how does he have time for either of those things? Apparently the latter is per the wishes of the former, but it’s worth it, because she is a great lady (in his words). She is Mary, Queen of Scots, and he is her second husband-to-be, so his position is a bit nebulous at the moment.
I got a call from my chaplaincy pal Sam, who has a friend who applied for the CPE program at just one place and got an interview—at Stanford! That’s impressive. Sam wondered if I would speak to her on the phone and give her any tips I could think of about preparing for her interview, which I was happy to do. We had a good talk, and afterward I sent her my written notes on this topic. It was nice to get a chance to help someone else after having been mentored myself so generously lately.
This aspiring chaplain, who is a Zen Buddhist, said she’s not interested in praying for people or doing rituals—why should she try to pretend something is there that isn’t there? I told her I sympathize. In the past, I decided more than once not to pursue chaplaincy for that precise reason: I didn’t want to become immersed in religion, even my own. But I now feel that I will be happy to learn to offer whatever will be most soothing to someone in distress. If someone wants me to pray to God on his or her behalf, I will be delighted to do that. We experimented with this in the Sati Center class. I was prayed for, briefly, by someone who was adamantly opposed to the whole thing and I was very surprised at how comforting it was. Also, in my limited experience as a volunteer chaplain, hardly anyone wants an explicitly religious conversation. Most people just want to talk.
The aspiring chaplain also asked about being able to provide love in a hospital. I’m sure she knows she can be loving in any context if she chooses, so I answered by telling her that I am an aversive type: I don’t naturally walk around radiating love, and therefore rely much more on my ability to be awake and present. I have often observed that when I am fully present, an appropriate kind and friendly response arises easily.