Well, maybe not so much confused, but yesterday I was certainly dazed and more than a little brain-dead by late afternoon. In the morning I was on my hospital placement followed, in the afternoon, by my follow-up PDI – that’s Personal Development Interview in 121-speak.
Each of those on its own is taxing enough. Both together on the same day was perhaps not one of my brightest scheduling tasks. The hospital placement is with the chaplaincy team and I have a ward assigned to me to do visits in. Up to this point, conversations have been fairly mundane but on Wednesday I had a particularly ‘heavy’ chat with someone. I can’t, obviously, give any details but there was some pretty serious stuff being shared with me. I’m still sorting it through in my mind and working out all of the ramifications. I’ve also agreed with our supervisor to discuss the issues with the group next week. It’s difficult to prepare for something like this, especially when it comes on you out of the blue – the conversation up ’til that point gave no indication that some ‘heavy’ stuff was coming. I guess the point is that I should expect anything and be prepared to go with the conversation wherever it heads. It would be too easy and a bit of a cop-out to steer the conversation away from something I’m not prepared to deal with. After all, the person is sharing this, very personal, information for a reason. For all I know this may be the one and only time they will get it off their chest and I can’t judge the effects of that. I guess it also means that a chaplain/pastor/minister should never treat any conversation as mundane. The true meaning of it can only really be known by the person telling their story. It’s a pretty awesome responsibility and a huge privilege. My hope for this placement, regardless of the academic outcome, is that I will be better attuned to the nuances of pastoral conversations. More to the point, this hasn’t scared me off and, in a way, it’s quite exciting being drawn into that sphere. It’s a challenge, but one to look forward to.
Then on top of that I had my second PDI. That, to all intents and purposes, is a slow roasting on a spit by a psychological assessor who picks your personality apart to make sure you’re not a total fruitcake (or, at least, not the wrong sort of fruitcake). In actual fact, it wasn’t too bad. I’ve nothing to hide and do feel I’ve grown considerably over the last months and years as a reflective person. I know myself better. I better understand my strengths and weaknesses and I can face things I’m not comfortable with in a way that isn’t stressful because I know I’m not comfortable and understand the reasons why. Perhaps most crucially, I can articulate all of this in a way I struggled with before. In this respect I would only have myself to blame if I don’t come across well at my forthcoming local review and then, hopefully, the assessment conference. I have the ‘tools’ and the understanding (albeit still on the learning curve) to ‘sell’ my calling to those who will be looking for it.
It may well sound like it was a pretty intense day, and in many respects it was, but it was one of those crucial points where a lot of pressures came together at once and what it forced out the far side was me with a few more rough edges knocked off and a better appreciation of God at work, reshaping and ‘fitting out’. I was shattered last night. My head was buzzing and I’m still wrestling with a lot of what happened. But I don’t feel stressed by it and I don’t feel defeated by it. In a bizarre way, I feel quite exhilarated, particularly now as I type this blog entry, looking back on yesterday and considering the significance of it all.
Dazed? Most definitely. Confused? A lot less so.