Each year the COMISS Network promotes Spiritual Care Week. It is an occasion to recognize the different disciplines who offer spiritual care to persons. The theme for 2018 is Hospitality: Cultivating Time. Throughout this week you will hear from CBF endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors as they focus on this theme. Below is Part 5. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.
By Rebecca Adrian
We moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, from Dallas a little over a year ago so that I could become the ACPE Educator for University of Virginia. The move was tough at first. We missed the big sky, Tex-Mex food, friends and familiarity.
But doing something new, even if it’s scary, is important. It keeps me from becoming stagnant and helps me to be open to new ways of thinking.
Hospitality is key to our work as chaplains. I teach my CPE students to avoid dualistic thinking. Either/or thinking cuts us off from options and makes it impossible, in my view, to be truly hospitable to another who is different from us. Bad/good; right/wrong; us/them; love/hate…you see were I’m going with this. Dualism separates.
I tell my students that there is always a middle way. If we can remind ourselves of this, we can create a place of hospitality for those in our care, no matter who they are or what they are struggling with.
Little did we know that just a few months after our move, Charlottesville would make national news as the Alt Right came to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from one of our city parks.
Politics aside, it was frightening to be here that day.
Every available chaplain, resident and intern was called into the hospital after a young woman, Heather Hayer, was killed by a motorist during the rally. Stretchers lined the lobby of our hospital and ambulances were lined up down the block, engines running, ready to go if needed. It felt like a war zone.
I was proud of the way our hospital functioned that day. Staff came in to help in spite of putting themselves in potential danger. I was proud of our team of chaplains who ministered to those who were injured in the crash, who were scared and angry and hurt.
A story that emerged was of a young person who had come into town to protest against the Alt Right. She had been knocked down and injured during the car crash that killed Heather Hayer. Someone reached down to help her up in the midst of the screams and chaos. As she took his hand she realized it was a member of the Alt Right group that had stopped to help her. She told our chaplain, “I wanted to hate all of them, to believe they were evil. But I looked up to see compassion and humanity in that man’s face. I realized that hate, mine or his, kept me from seeing them as human beings. Hate is destructive, no matter who is acting on it. I couldn’t hate him, or them, anymore.”
Rebecca Adrian is a CBF endorsed chaplain serving as an ACPE Educator for University of Virginia in Charlottesville.