Since 1985, the Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings (“COMISS”) has observed the last week of October as Spiritual Care Week – a time when we celebrate the sacred work of chaplains and pastoral counselors. This year’s Spiritual Care Week theme is “Collaborative Healthcare: Chaplains Complete the Picture.” Sometimes a picture is more informative and revealing than words. Often the ministry of chaplains and pastoral counselors extends beyond words alone as they provide emotional support and spiritual care to persons in need, an essential part of the holistic interdisciplinary care that is offered within a variety of settings. Their ministry is an extension of our missional work as a Fellowship, to embody the love of God and hope through Christ, as we work together to complete the picture of putting our faith into action, to renew our world.
Take a moment this week to celebrate and thank our CBF Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors for the good and sacred work that they do every day.
Putting the Words Together
By Grace Powell Freeman
Spread. This is not a word you ever want to hear when you are the chaplain in an outpatient cancer clinic. She is one of my favorite patients and has been fighting breast cancer for almost a year, and then she gets the word that the cancer has spread, and it does not look good. A referral comes from the doctor for me to meet with him and the patient when she comes in for her appointment to get the news.
Shock. Why me? What are my chances? What are the next steps of treatment? As I sit next to my friend, I want to take away the pain, but that is not my job. I am there to sit with her as she processes this news and identifies her feelings. I am there to help hold some of the pain and emotions in the room.
Pray. As we talk, I hear my friend talk about her questions and fear. I hear her say that she has forgotten how to pray. ‘I used to write my prayers each day, but I have forgotten how to even put my words together.’
Share. I gift this patient with a journal, and I asked her if she could begin to put words down that would help her express herself to God who had held her during her first diagnosis and treatment, express what she is feeling, the anger, the fear, the questions. During her next appointment, as I started towards her infusion chair, I could tell she had things she wanted to tell me. She reached down in her bag and pulled out her purple journal and opened it to pages filled with her groanings to God. She talked about her process to begin writing again and she asked if she could share something with me.
God, you are here with me. You have always been with me, and You will always with be with me … even in the darkest days. And you place the right people in my life to support me, to care for me, to hold me and encourage me to reach out to You—to put words to all of my feelings.
Thank you for this. Amen.
She looks at me and our eyes connect. And I know. God continues to move in her life and in my ministry. I am thankful.
Grace Powell Freeman is a CBF-endorsed APC Board Certified chaplain, serving as the first outpatient chaplain with Wellstar Health System in Atlanta, Georgia. Grace also serves as a PRN chaplain with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory St. Joseph Hospital. Grace is married to Bob Freeman, and they are the parents of two young adult sons, Powell Freeman and Lewis Freeman.
We have more than 800 active professional CBF Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, serving throughout our country and worldwide, in a variety of specialized settings – all branches of the United States Armed Forces; the Civil Air Patrol; the Department of Veterans Affairs, hospitals and hospices, correctional institutions, fire, police, and rescue departments, colleges and universities, businesses and industries, retirement communities, counseling centers, private counseling practices, church staffs, and many other interdisciplinary settings.
To learn more about the work of CBF Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, please visit our webpage at https://cbf.net/chaplaincy-pastoral-counseling.