Dave Thomas - May 2015 Journal

Well it is now the month of May and exams are ended. Presently, I am looking forward to taking the summer course CPE. C.P.E is the acronym for Clinical Pastoral Education. The University of the West Indies alongside Codrington Theological Seminary have researched a statistical analysis stating that for the past 50 years many of the clerics seem to focus heavily on academia and neglect the basic pastoral skills. Therefore, they have introduced a course that is heavily involved with caring for the souls of men. That is, visiting hospitals, prisons and rehabilitation centres. The essence of the course is basically being a listening ear to and in some cases for those in need.

For the last two years of my life, I have had the opportunity to work with many individuals. As a result of this, I became an expert at conversing.  This involved paying close attention to what people have to say and being very analytical of the words they use to express their beliefs, values etc. Hoping that these words would paint a clear picture of a contextual character.
 Being verbally analytical helps me very much in the C.P.E realm. However, I realize that one must also be able to analyze people’s actions. This is because if C.P.E calls me to attend and to serve people in any state that they are in (that I am capable of attending), then sometimes I would have to attend a person that cannot speak with their mouth because of given circumstances.  Perhaps analysing their actions (movements, gestures, and non-verbal) would generously contribute to understanding the condition of the person and being able to attend to it appropriately. Hence, my reason for this interview is to explore how well I can understand pain without words.

On the 28th of this month I visited the B ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. On account of uncontrollable events the only known fact prior the visit was that I was visiting an individual in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. However, during my encounter with (M-the patient) there were a number of things she told me about herself.  First, she is married with two sons who are preparing shortly to leave secondary school. Secondly, she has pain in her lower back.  Finally, she is 45 years old.
I begin the process in prayer with the others in the hospital Chapel. I also engaged in private prayer as I waited on the outside of the door of the Patient who I was about to visit. Asking God for guidance and direction while I seek to attend to the one in need.
 In addition to spiritual preparation I did a bit of self reflection as we waited a while at the benches.  I reflected on knowledge of self, my role as a caregiver and my emotions. Reflecting on the point that as I attend to the patient I would respect his/her point of view, and avoid clinging to the status that may be given to me by patients (Rev, Fr. etc.), but show my willingness to come alongside the patient and to have a relationship that is to and for the person.
I wanted to simply be an eye, and an ear to and for the patient. Sometimes someone just needs another person to listen to them. I wanted to be that “another person.”
As one aspiring to the Priest-hood, it is important to always be prepared for anything. The beginning of this process is to attain self knowledge and self awareness. This involves knowing what and what not to say in various contexts. This is on the principal that as pastors we are responsible to attend to a need. However, we cannot attend to a need unless we assess a need. Assessing a need and responding to it involves self awareness and counselee awareness. This has formed and matured my emotional and spiritual being as a seminarian in the church of God.

Posted on June 23, 2015 .