My apologies for not writing for you last month. The whirlwind that was finals and graduations (complete with an honorary doctorate for our own Bishop Matt) left me at a loss for words; especially with the great unknown of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) ahead of me. I was thankful to come home to Grace (ever so briefly) and preach on Trinity Sunday. It was SO good to be with all of you for that very short time before starting my summer education. Now, a month later, the one thing I can say for sure is that CPE is exhausting! And, I need your prayers, now more than ever.

First, some of you may still be wondering what CPE is. It “is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths into supervised encounter with persons in crisis.” In addition to being joined by two of my classmates from VTS, there is a woman studying to be a Jewish spiritual director, and a Roman Catholic priest who is considering full-time chaplaincy at The Hebrew Home of Greater Washington in Rockville, MD. Our supervisor, Rabbi Jim Michaels, has been supervising CPE candidates for twenty years and working with VTS for the past ten years. I’d heard high praise for the program here from other classmates who’ve served here. They were correct.

CPE is primarily about listening and being “present” for those in crisis or stressful situations. Most CPE positions are in hospitals but nursing care facilities also provide circumstances that are similarly charged with stress and emotions for patients, families, and care givers. My role is to sit with and listen to their stories. Each story is sacred. In each interaction, I am seen as bringing God to be present with them. At times, I will be asked to pray with them, other times not.  I am also assigned to two dementia wards of varying degrees. In some cases, there are no stories that can be shared by the residents but, in sharing sacred time with the resident, I sit them; sometimes in silence, sometimes in song, sometimes in prayer, finding ways to be “present”. Each day is incredibly draining and I ask your prayers for healing.

Some have wondered why I’m at a “Jewish” facility. Hebrew Home provides interaction with a variety of residents across a number of faith backgrounds and is only fifty percent Jewish. In ministry, we are called to be “in the world.” My time here has been incredibly enlightening. It has allowed me to discover more of what we share in common across traditions. In preparing for my future role, this has been such a blessing to spend time finding our common ground first and working from there. I know my time here will bless my ministry in the future, especially when it comes to sharing our Savior with those who have no prior knowledge of him. It all starts by being in community. Yet, spending that time discovering our shared ground is a long and sometimes arduous. It too can be draining and I ask your prayers for strength.

I also ask your prayers for safety. Hebrew Home is in Rockville, MD which is 25 miles from my apartment. However, DC traffic is brutal. On a really good day, my commute could be as little as 37 minutes, one way. That rarely happens. On a typical day, my commute is closer to 50 minutes. I’ve had bad days where my time in heavy traffic has been over 90 minutes. Yesterday, I had a combined total of 3 hours commuting time on top of 8 hours of clinical time. It’s no wonder that I got home completely drained and ready for bed by 7:30 PM! However, I gave thanks that I was home safely and lifted prayers for those less fortunate.

I am well. I miss you all! I miss the many activities that were part of summers past and look forward to the activities that will be part of summers future. I look forward to being with you in August and sharing a presentation about my first year. In the meantime, I am dubbing this the “Summer of Prayer”; due to my daily prayers with residents and my requests for all of your prayers. “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Thank you for your prayers.

By His Love,                                                                                             Bobbi

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