CPE Discoveries

Shortly, my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) experience will be over and I’ll be headed back to WI for a bit of a break. This summer program has been exhausting but I’ve learned a lot; both expected and unexpected. All of which, though, I couldn’t have done without your love, support, and prayers.
As I entered the CPE program, I knew my biggest challenge would be to change “how” I listen. For over thirty years, my profession required that I use a form of listening for “fixing.” With this style, the listener asks lots of questions to obtain answers in order to find something, fix something, or solve some problem. Like James Garner’s character, “The Scrounger”, in the movie The Great Escape, I was skilled at listening, analyzing, and filling a need. Thanks to my CPE experience, I’ve learned new skills for listening. These new skills enable me to “be present” to those in need of God’s presence with them; to listen with my heart. It does not involve sharing of my own personal stories and this type of listening involves practically zero questions! It takes a lot of practice.
In addition, my time at a predominantly Jewish facility has allowed for some amazing discoveries that will assist me when bridge-building with individuals from varying belief structures. Each interaction has required that I find a common place to build from. That common ground has allowed us to reach across religious borders in order for God’s presence to be experienced. Without the “familiar territory” of the seminary or parish, the ability to find common ground has been an important tool for me to learn. Soon, I’ll be doing my field education at Georgetown University where there will be even more variety regarding beliefs, in addition to the weekly Episcopal service that I’ll be involved with. Being at the Hebrew Home has taught me so much! Especially when you consider that even in a parish, there can be differences in beliefs. It is important to build from our common ground in order to live together in love.
And, finally, there’s transference. CPE opened my eyes to the fact that no matter how hard I try; I am not impartial. I bring a lifetime of history and experiences with me to every pastoral situation. “Transference” is the process by which emotions and desires originally associated with one person are unconsciously shifted to another person. There are moments during pastoral visits where I find myself reminded of another person or a similar situation. The important thing I learned, though, is to be able to set it aside and not to presume the person/situation in front of me is like any other of my experiences. It is important to recognize that similarities exist, but not rely on them to presume anything.  Each situation is different and deserves its own respect and attention plus it must be discovered without interrogation. We each have a story within us. It is important to be able to share it and have it heard.
The past ten weeks have been difficult but have provided growth and continued transformation. On the toughest of days, knowing that you were praying for me made a huge difference! I am looking forward to coming home for a couple of weeks this month and seeing you all. God provided us the instructions and tools to take Sabbath. Mine will be spent with you.
I ask your prayers for Kaleigh’s upcoming tonsillectomy (8/10) that it will solve the issue she’s had this past year with recurring strep throat. I await word from her insurance company and from my financial aid office regarding our finances. So much unknown in the air, yet God’s presence is felt; “all will be well” no matter what may come. I ask your continued prayers for strength and courage. In late August, I will return to VTS and will move once again. This time, though, to an apartment on-campus. I look forward to being on The Hill which makes the prospect of moving again a bit more palatable. All WILL be well…and all manner of things will be well. Thank goodness for Julian’s words!!
By His Love,                                                                                             Bobbi

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