Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 04 Dec 2014 11:05 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)


    Gathering of the Community
    25 YEARS OF CPSP

    Still Learning From Boisen
    50 Years After His Death

    We cordially invite you to join us 
    from March 15 – 18, in Chicago, IL. 

    We will meet for informative speakers, 
    dynamic group process, 
    and to celebrate our successes.

    The CPSP Community will gather in Chicago March 15 - 18, 2015 to celebrate our 25 years together as a vibrant and innovative certifying and accrediting community dedicated to excellence in the clinical pastoral field. The theme of the conference is .

    The CPSP Community will gather in Chicago March 15 - 18, 2015 to celebrate our 25 years together as a vibrant and innovative certifying and accrediting community dedicated to excellence in the clinical pastoral field. The theme of the conference is "Still Learning From Boisen 50 Years After His Death".

    The schedule is as follows:

    Sunday, March 15 – Thinking and Feeling Together About The Things That Matter Most - Anton Theophilus Boisen (1876-1965)
    Workshops and gatherings will take place during the day.

    The Presentation of the Helen Flanders Dunbar Award will be made by Robert C. Powell, Ph.D., M.D.. 
    The Keynote Speaker is Glenn H. Asquith, Jr.
    The event is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. that evening. 

    This will be a very special day - please be sure to join us!

    Monday, March 16 
    Opening Session, Small Groups, and Presidential Luncheon.

    Tuesday, March 17 –
    Tavistock, Small Groups, Presentation of Certificates, and live entertainment.

    Wednesday, March 18 –
    Governing Council Meeting, closing.


    The gathering will be held at the Embassy Suites Chicago - Downtown
    Just steps from Magnificent Mile, and one block from the subway station, this newly renovated hotel has a dramatic 11-story atrium, filled with blooming foliage and a rushing waterfall.

    Every guest room is a two-room suite, with a separate living room and bedroom, equipped with a microwave, mini-refrigerator, coffeemaker, and two telephones. Complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast is available every morning. PURE allergy friendly rooms and non-smoking suites are available.

    We have reserved a block of rooms at the special rate of $159 per night for the single rate (one king bed) and $159 for the double rate (two double beds), and the separate living room includes a queen-size sofa bed, so three guests can easily share one room. There is a charge of $30 per person/per night, for more than two in a room. This rate is good for the Saturday night before the event, and the Wednesday night that our event ends.

    Embassy Suites Chicago –Downtown
    600 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
    Tel: 312.943.3800

    http://bit.ly/cpsphotel
    Event Code: CPS

    A brochure will be posted on the Pastoral Report and emailed to all members in mid-December, and it will include a more specific schedule, as we finalize our plans for the very special event!


  • 25 Nov 2014 11:18 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Salt Lake Regional Medical Center's 2014 Fall publication, Views and News, starts out with congratulatory remarks regarding CPSP's Debra Hampton, Clinical Chaplain:

    Congratulations Debra Hampton, Pastoral Care Coordinator Salt Lake Regional Medical Center’s 2014 Chairman’s Award Winner. 

    She is acknowledged for her ministry and special feeling for the homeless. Having worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India no doubt has shaped who she is as a person and her clinical ministry as chaplain.

    The writer comments further on Chaplain Hampton's unique ministry:

    She finds family members of homeless patients, and if family can’t be found, she allows no one to die alone. She inspires her coworkers with patience, support, kindness and guidance every single day. She follows her heart and never looks away or becomes complacent. Debra is a rare gem of humankind, indeed.


    In the article's side-bar is a quote from Chaplain Hampton:

    Do not be afraid of what other will think, or that you have to something big to make a difference. Not knowing what to do is a great obstacle, like being stuck in indecisiveness. It takes faith to step forward in uncertain territory. But all acts of kindness count.

    To read the full article, Download file.

    ______________________________
    Debra Hampton, Clinical Chaplain
    Pastoral Care Coordinator
    Salt Lake Regional Medical Center

    Email: debra.hamptonslc@gmail.com


  • 24 Nov 2014 11:24 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Fall is all around us, with colors and leaves and the mix of warm sun and cool air. While nature is pulling back and preparing for winter, I went to CPSP's National Clinical Training Seminar-East in Morristown, New Jersey hoping to grow and help others develop through clinical learning, networking and especially the small groups. I found a fellowship there growing out of diversity, sharing and a wonderful program and presenters.

    The Loyola House of Retreats provided a beautiful mansion on a wooded site, with walking trails, gardens, a Koi pond and lots of room for quiet reflection or walking with old and new friends. We started with case presentations in our small group sessions. Each member of the small group brought either a case, a supervision issue, or a paper to share and gather peer review. Like careful gardeners, each presenter had to harvest and attend to what they gleaned from their peers. Back in the large group, they would offer a brief summary of what they learned, with other members of their group occasionally reminding them of other important points.

    The evening brought us together for a large group presentation on "Reflecting on Group Process" by Drs. Howard Friedman, Jennifer Lee and Frank Marrocco of the A. K. Rice Institute for the study of social systems. These same presenters provided the consultation for the evening's Large Group Event, which brought some excitement and energy to everyone there. Many commented on how much they learned from the work of this year's "Tavistock" large group. I found the shifts in the group fascinating. The energy around the issues that came out around social issues and parallels to change in our CPSP all seemed reflective of our unconscious group processes. The abrupt ending when we reached the time boundary added to the excitement, as many of us didn't want to stop! Of course, we had to stop for the social hour, and that turned out to be a great time for unwinding and chatting with colleagues after a long day of clinical training.

    Day two brought more, and in our small group we met early to make sure everyone had a chance to present their own case. The early presentation was followed by breakfast, and another Large Group Event/Debriefing that continued the focus on working in the present and addressing the conscious and unconscious aspects of our group. All in all, most thought it a success, and from where I sat (not in the back row) there was a lot of interest in both the content of the expressed concerns and the process of the group's trying to work in the present. It may sound a bit technical, but if you love group process, it was a great time.

    We held our final gathering over lunch, and I said goodbye to some new friends. This was my first National Clinical Training Seminar, but now I can see why these are so worthwhile. It was a chance to learn from others and offer collegial feedback to fellow members of our covenant; to continue to grow through the winter and prepare for spring. See you next year!

    ____________________________________________
    David Goldstrom is a Board Certified Chaplain and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently in private practice in Rochester, New York. His website  DavidGoldstrom.com  describes his work as a psychotherapist, and his blog goldstrom.net contains many of his articles on military chaplaincy in Afghanistan and Iraq.


  • 15 Nov 2014 11:33 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Bylaws creating a new chapter-based form of governance for CPSP were adopted by consensus on November 13, the first day of a two-day Governing Council meeting in Chicago.

    The spirit of the meeting was constructive and amicable.

    The gathering of more than fifty participants, mostly conveners of chapters from throughout the United States, accepted a proposal drafted by David Baker and David Roth after discussion. CPSP chapters had more than five months to review and provide feedback on the proposal.

    While the document was adopted, several matters were delegated by the Governing Council to the members of the Operations Team for their consideration and possible incorporation into the final text. The Operations Team is made up of leaders who have been working in the key areas of accreditation of training, certification of members, certification of chapters, hospice and palliative care, standards, and the plenary. David Roth is convener of the group.

    The newly adopted bylaws replace the old bylaws from 2009. The new bylaws were drafted at the request of the Governing Council at its Plenary meeting last March in Virginia Beach. Their adoption marks the culmination of two-and-a-half years devoted to finding a suitable governance plan for CPSP in light of its enormous growth in numbers and geographical expansion in recent years.

    The new Governing Council, comprised of a representative Chapter of Chapters and Chapter of Diplomates, along with an Executive Chapter, is expected to assume full governance of CPSP at the 25th anniversary Plenary on March 18, 2015, also in Chicago.

    _______________________________
    Email:PASTORALREPORT


  • 09 Nov 2014 4:02 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Chaplain Richard Joyner, a CPSP certified clinical chaplain, pastoral counselor and founding member of the Goldsboro, NC CPSP Chapter was awarded a $25,000 Purpose Prize on October, 28, 2014. Out of a pool of 800 nominees, he was one of six individuals who distinguished themselves through their passion, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and impact.

    Chaplain Joyner serves as lead chaplain and community liaison for Nash Health Care (an affiliate of UNC Health Care), Rocky Mount, NC and pastor of Conetoe Baptist Church, Conetoe, NC. In the hospital and from the pulpit, Joyner could see firsthand that unhealthy eating was one of the root causes of poor health. To address this problem, he and others planted a 25-acre community garden and made it a part of the Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC). The garden is steadily improving the health of his rural congregation, boosting students’ high-school graduation rates and economic potential because they have taken ownership of it, and providing a model for more than 21 church communities.

    The change in dietary practices have resulted in weight lost, a decrease in the number of deaths, and a decrease in emergency room visits as the primary health care resource. Joyner was quoted as saying that “his encore work speaks to life ‘on both sides of existence’ – the pulpit and the garden field.” The Brody School of Medicine of East Carolina University has taken an interest in the success of the CFLC’s garden and the impact that it is having on the health of the community. The medical school is attempting to measure this success and have allowed the church to participate in a diabetes and heart disease study that they are conducting.

    According to their website, www.encore.org, “The Purpose Prize, now in its ninth year, is the nation's pre-eminent large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. The Prize awards at least $100,000 annually to individuals creating new ways to solve tough social problems. The 2014 Purpose Prize awarded $300,000 to six individuals.” Two individuals received $100,000 each; the remaining four received $25,000 each.

    ____________________________________________
    Chaplain Richard Joyner
    rejoyner@nhcs.org

    Chaplain Danita Perkins
    dmperkins@nhcs.org


  • 01 Nov 2014 9:32 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    I was paged to the intensive care unit, where an older black woman was about to be terminally extubated. Her daughter was sitting by her bedside, and her son was standing beyond the foot of the bed. A niece, two grandchildren and the daughter’s female friend were also present. It would prove to be intense hour-and-forty-minutes of pastoral care.

    When I entered the room and introduced myself, the family accepted my presence. The patient was listed as a “Baptist,” but not affiliated with a church, her daughter said. There was sacred music playing softly in the background: “The soulful moods of Marvin Gaye,” whose R & B songs and singing style had deep meaning for the patient and her family.

    The daughter asked if I would offer a prayer. My prayer expressed God’s shepherd-like, eternal loving care for the patient, and the preciousness of her life to her family and of their lives to her, and ended in Jesus’ name. That was the easy part.

    The challenging part was soon communicated by the son, John.* I had made it a point to stand next to him, having shook his hand and asking his name. The challenging part: he pointed to his intubated mother, and said that pulling the tube from her mouth was like pulling the switch when an inmate was electrocuted in prison. He saw his mother as experiencing pain and punishment, like a condemned criminal—this punitive image possibly part of his psyche, being black in an oppressive white-dominated society. When he repeated his observation, his sister, Marcia*, responded that their mother had been given morphine and is not in pain.

    It would have been helpful if the nurse had heard and responded to the son’s concerns about his mother’s treatment. His concerns may have been addressed by staff earlier, and his grief may have prevented him from hearing them. 

    After a few moments of silence, he said, “This is the worst day of my life.” I responded that words can’t express the pain you must feel.” He nodded. Then he called out, “I love you mother!”

    He continued to compare her terminal extubation to an execution—as if the nurse attending her at that moment were an executioner. It was then that I said to him, “John, the aim of the medical staff is to make sure your mother’s dying is as comfortable and painless for her as possible.” After a few seconds of silence, he blurted out, “I know. I just don’t want her to . . .,” and then he broke down, and put his head in his hand. I put my arm around him and said, “I know. You don’t want her to die,” adding ”You said that this is the worst day of your life.” His breaking down led me to choke up inside.

    But the challenge this loving son presented was not over. The staff had told the family that everyone would have to leave the patient’s room while they were removing the tube from her mouth. John, who had a muscular physique, repeated to those of us in the room, “I’m not leaving.” His sister said to him, “You’re not going to cause trouble, are you?” He replied, “I’m not leaving.”

    A few minutes later, John’s female cousin walked over and stood in front of him, and said, “John, I want you to leave the room with us. We need to let the staff do their work, and then we’ll come back. Come on, John.” With that, she put her hand on his arm, and John left with her.

    After the patient was extubated and we were being ushered back into the room, a nurse said about the now tubeless dying patient, “She looks very nice.” The female cousin, walking in front of me, said, “She shouldn’t say that.” The nurse meant well, but her words lacked identification with this family’s reality.

    As we stood around this mother-grandmother- aunt, who was taking her last, short, breaths, her daughter, Marcia, called out to her, sobbing: “Don’t leave me mother! I will be all alone! I won’t know what to do without you! I love you so.” After a pause, she said, “Alright, mother. Alright mother. I will let you go.” Her plea and resignation brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. There was a brief silence. Marcia then asked me to offer another prayer. The prayer provided me a chance not only to stand next to her, but to put my arm around and comfort her, as I offered the prayer. I then hugged John, who responded in kind. And I hugged his female cousin as she was leaving the room, and said to her, “You are a wise woman.”

    John, the son, suffered great pain seeing his mother die. My intent was to establish as much rapport as possible, in an attempt to help him deal with strong, conflicting feelings, thus lessoning the possibility of him acting out inappropriately toward medical staff. I had much help: from his sister, Marcia, and especially from his wise cousin. Both women demonstrated the great wisdom family members-- and friends-- often possess and display toward each other in dealing with the tragic realities of death and grief.

    ******************

    *The names have been changed to protect their identity.

    Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., is now a chaplain consultant at Boston Medical Center, where he occasionally covers for the staff chaplains, having retired from his full time position as a staff chaplain there in 2011. A member of the Concord, NH CPSP Chapter, his book, A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. He is a frequent contributor to Counterpunch. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@ gmail.com.


  • 01 Nov 2014 7:39 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)


    In the Long Ago Times, before recorded history, humans have gathered in order to worship that which is greater than themselves. Primeval man worshiped the sun, thunder beings, the waters and various species of animals which they felt had influence over their lives and their destinies. They sought union, communion and reunion with these entities. They also gathered to celebrate benchmarks in their lives such as birth of a child, the rites of passage into manhood and womanhood, marriages and, at the end of this earth walk, death and burial. Thus began ceremony.

    Where these gatherings took place ranged from a solitary spot on a mountaintop surrounded by a circle of stones to a cave deemed special to a hut or kiva used only for such rituals. Over the millennia, such simple sites continued but were also added to with elaborate temples, churches and mosques.

    Sacred space, regardless of the site or structure, was and continues to be created first and foremost by “intent”. That is, that those gathered, be it one, two or the full complement of a tribe or community, “intended” that the work done within that space and time was sacred in nature. It could be a shaman visiting a sick member of the tribe in their home. It could be the gathering of a faith community to recall key events in their heritage. Whatever the occasion, a sacred dimension was always present.

    As religious practices became more structured, not only the gathering places became more specified, the rituals carried out in them and by their elders also became more codified and, as humans are inclined to do, became more restricted and limited.

    The Psalmist tells us:

    My House shall be called a House of Prayer, says the Lord.

    In it anyone who asks he shall receive,

    And he who seeks, finds,

    And to him who knocks, it shall be opened.

    “Audience with God” is omnipresent. The line of connection occurs when a person or persons “intend” or seek such union, communion or reunion. Access to grace is always there but an individual must seek, must knock, and must open the door from their side before the link is opened. Ours is to facilitate this connection, to provide witness to the event and to help those estranged from their Creator with the words to navigate a path long forgotten, overgrown with fear or even non-existent.

    _What is reflected here is the need for the human spirit to embrace something bigger than itself. Rituals invariably included praise, thanksgiving, supplication, forgiveness, and nourishment of both body and soul. Spirit Feasts, feasting after prolonged fasting and prayer, remembrance and renewal of the Last Supper were also present in such gatherings.

    Religious sects notwithstanding, virtually all spiritual practices from primeval man to indigenous peoples worship up to and including today’s structured religions, the common element of intent to communicate with a higher being and the setting aside or creating of sacred space are always present.

    So what, might you ask, has this to do with interfaith hospital chaplaincy?

    Actually, it is a topic often unaddressed because of denominational propriety and the vagaries of sacramental theology. Disputes on semantics and apostolic succession and the sanctioning of administering of the sacraments to Christians in need by Christians present to assist and comfort deprives many in search of the inward changes through external acts at arms length and out of reach. To my mind, this equates to “When in doubt…punt”.

    As interfaith chaplains, is it not our responsibility to minister to a variety of faith groups insofar as we are able so long as we do what we do with respect not only of various faith practices but also in response to the expressed intent of the patient? Our work is to first be grounded in our individual beliefs and then, being solidly grounded or able to walk steady in shifting sands, to step outside our comfort zone and be totally present to the needs and possibilities of those to whom we minister.

    I will enter into this potentially contentious dialogue with a quote from A.R. Ammons:

    "...don't establish the boundaries first, the squares, the triangles, boxes of preconceived possibility, and then pour life into them, trimming off left-over edges, ending potential"  

    Potential - the possibility that change can occur, healing can be manifested and peace can wash over a troubled soul. It is a possibility in the context of time and space and an expressed desire for healing and growth.

    Without entering the minefield of denominational prerogatives and restrictions permeating the realm of sacramental theology, I would like to address my focus on the sacrament of Penance, a sacrament based on biblical tradition, especially in the New Testament where Christians are charged to “confess their sins to one another” (James 6:12) and bear witness that a fellow human being is truly penitent before God.

    And so, the question before us is this: under what circumstances can an interfaith chaplain administer certain sacraments when a minister of a specific denomination is not available? To what extent can both the chaplain and the patient be confident that the sacrament will, in fact, be “effected”? Therein lies the rub or, more optimistically, therein lies an opening to common beliefs and a true unity among believers. There are opportunities of time, place and circumstance when an individual is open to healing, a window of opportunity that might never happen again. It is the task of a chaplain to see these windows and bring to the patient, in a manner that is effective and also respectful of their traditions, the healing power of God be it through prayer or, as in this case, a form of sacramental grace. When a minister of the patient’s faith group is unavailable, when do we step up to the plate rather than step back, leaning on the excuse of hoping to do no harm or possibly offend?

    It is only with the conviction that sacraments are outward signs of an internal change and that the effecting of a sacrament is founded on the covenant between God and one or more of his children and the activation of the covenant by the intention of the person who, in essence, is saying “I will go to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth. My help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Once that intention is made and the door open, all manner of grace-filled possibilities can occur. Especially in hospital settings, that expression of desire and intent may occur at any moment. With the reduction of clergy around the country who can visit their congregants, it is impossible for every patient to interact and pray with someone of their own denomination. Here again, it is the interfaith hospital chaplain who has the unique opportunity to facilitate healing and assist individuals, in the context and language of their faith group, to find union, communion and reunion with their Creator.

    It is my firm belief that extraordinary circumstances compel and justify extraordinary measures. The desire of a patient to seek communication, union and reunion with the entity that they worship and adore is primary in whatever way that is in harmony with their beliefs. In such way that we are able, we, as interfaith chaplains, are admonished to do that which we can to achieve this. In crisis situations, we must serve as surrogates for absent or unavailable ministers and priests. In no way is ours the role of assuming to be who we are not, nor is it is co-opt the privileges of ministers of various faith groups. On the contrary, we strive to represent them as respectfully as possible, hoping that in some way, we can bring comfort, solace and spiritual health to the ill. We are bridges when no bridge is available and where possible, we do all in our power to bring the appropriate minister to work with the patient as meets the needs and rubrics of their faith.

    Intent is the operative verb here. Intent on the part of the patient to seek spiritual guidance and intent on the part of the chaplain to provide whatever is possible, within their ability, to any given situation. Union with a higher power, whatever it may be called is the task facilitated by the chaplain. When we do “improvise” with a pure heart, I am sure that God, however named, is understanding and will use us a channel to communicate with His Child in need. Especially in moments of eminent death, a chaplain must not hesitate to bring a person whatever they need for spiritual and emotional nourishment. Furthermore, absent “intent”, the efficacy of any sacrament administered by the duly ordained is questionable since the one receiving the sacrament has not truly sought it out and is only going through the motions.

    _________________________
    Franklin Courson
    Board Certified Clinical Chaplain
    fcourson76@gmail.com


  • 21 Oct 2014 9:53 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Fall 2014 National Clinical Training Seminar-East will be held November 10-11, starting at 9:00 a.m., with Registration/Continental Breakfast.

    The theme for the event is Reflecting on Group Process with the following presenters: Drs. Howard Friedman, Jennifer Lee and Frank Marrocco.

    DOWNLOAD FALL 2014 NCTS REVISED SCHDEULE

    The venue for the NCTS-East is the The Loyola House of Retreats located at 161 James Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. 

    _____________________
    Francine Hernandez
    NCTS-East Coordinator 
    francine.angel5@gmail.com


  • 15 Oct 2014 9:59 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    If you have not already noticed, CPSP can be found on a number of the popular social media networks. This development is through the efforts of Krista Argiropolis, CPSP's Administrative Coordinator.

    The beautify of this expansion means that those who contribute articles to the Pastoral Report for publication will find their writing available via many web sources and will be more likely picked up, read and linked far beyond its original PR publication.

    Krista, seen in the photo with her son, Kristopher, with the White House as a backdrop, provided the following descriptions and links to these social media sights:

    Facebook: 
    CPSP has a new page, which is more dynamic and has features that were missing from the former group page, such as an Events page. Click HERE to visit us on Facebook.

    Twitter: 
    You can now follow us on Twitter, @CPSP_tweets, or click
     HERE to go to our Twitter page.

    LinkedIn: 
    As a professional community, we are now on LinkedIn, and you can follow our page by clicking
     HERE.

    Google+ Community: 
    Join our Google+ Community, as we share interests and updates. Click
     HERE to join.

    Pastoral Report remains the main source for news and information about CPSP, but the social media pages will provide another avenue for those who wish to share ideas and experiences, even on their mobile devices, while staying connected to CPSP events and initiatives.

    In addition, Krista Argiropolis has provided leadership to insure CPSP remains current in the use of the most recent technology. This includes discovering the software, Wild Apricot that has streamlined many functions in CPSP web presence, including documents that can be completed online and returned with ease, the CPSP Directory, etc. She also insured CPSP remains green by running an essentially paperless office.

    -Perry Miller, Editor

    _________________________
    Krista Argiropolis
    Administrative Coordinator
    (212) 246.6410
    krista@cpsp.org


  • 01 Oct 2014 10:04 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Author's Note: Artistic liberties were taken by intertwining fact with fiction to create a relatable story although based on facts from The ACPE History Network’s website presentation of: "The Biography of Anton Theophilus Boisen".

    Location: Boston Psychiatric and Westboro State Hospitals
    Years: 1920-1923

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen my friend, Anton. We have been the right hand for the other since we attended Union Seminary together and I am most anxious to sit with my friend after such a lengthy absence. He is in Boston Psychiatric Hospital and all I know for certain is that he has summoned me.

    The air is crisp today even though the sun shines brightly. I am anxious to see my friend. I long for a good, long, intellectual delving into a topic or two. The sound of my shoes’ stacked leather heels echo through the empty green-walled corridors. The blinding sunlight floods through the wall of windows lining the hallway leading to the sunroom, at its end, where I am told I will find Anton. I notice how perfectly polished the asbestos tiles of gray are; most likely what is accentuating my every step.

    Anton, I find, is sitting in a large wooden chair with equally large wheels. He is dressed in a crisply ironed white cotton sleeping suite and a red plaid woolen robe. His leather slippers seem a bit too large for his withering frame. I am unnerved by what I see.

    Fred: Placing a hand gently on his shoulder, Fred announces, “Anton, I am here, my friend.” However, Anton sits, motionless, starring out at the uniformed nurses wheeling patients out onto the gardens below. He does not focus on anything in particular; he is simply starring.

    My hand remains on his shoulder. There is not a flicker of recognition. I look for a chair to pull up beside him. I am so longing to tell him everything that has happened since he left the university and how my continued research has gone in his absence. Seated, now, with my back to the window and facing Anton, I speak with enthusiasm, hoping to snap my friend out of his sullenness.

    Fred: “I’ve continued on with our research project but it’s nearly impossible to make the impressive headway that you and I make as a team. I will be delighted to have you back ole’ chap!”

    Still, nothing. Not a blink, a flicker, a movement of an eye. My determination heightens as does my concern.

    Fred: “Professor William Lowe Bryon sends his regards. I spoke with Laird and Bartley earlier this week and told them I was making the trip to Boston. They inquired of you, as well.

    I stopped by Morrisette’s for some of your favorites; pralines! Lyna Morrisette made these herself and when I told her these were for Anton Boisen she included an extra one and boxed them herself!”

    I leaned forward, my arm outstretched, in an effort to inspire my friend to divert his gaze onto the cheerfully, skillfully, wrapped Morrisette Sweete Shoppe box. But he did not. I had seen Anton sad, certainly. I had seen him angry and morose, ecstatic over a research conundrum solved and pleased beyond measure with a string of smaller successes over the years. However, to see my friend so completely void of all emotion and interest has disarmed me; I have no response. I want to grab hold of his shoulders and shout to him to “snap out of it” but I catch myself and think better of it.

    Ours was a life of deeply inspired research, classes in universities and a constant ebb and flow of a student population lingering on every word proceeding from our lips.

    Today’s Anton was staring in a deeply disturbing silence. He refuses to speak and I leave the room to search out the physician in charge of his care. He shares that Anton has been diagnosed with “Catatonic Schizophrenia” which he explained at some length. Troubled, and fearing for my dearest friend I wondered if he would ever be able to leave here…to lead a normal life…ever again. My heart was heavy.

    I slowly reentered Anton’s room. He remained silent. I am deeply disturbed. Anton is both here and not here. Again, I take my seat. I stay a while longer. Anton’s purpose for summoning my presence will be a mystery for today. I shall return in a few weeks. Perhaps then he will remember. Hopefully, then, he will tell me.

    I make several more visits in the coming months. I walk down the same well-lit corridors toward the solarium or sometimes into his room where the white painted metal hospital furniture and the scent of crisp white linens fill my senses only to remind me that my best friend is too ill to speak to me and may never speak again.

    Always, I bring messages from home, little tokens from acquaintances and always- cheerful dialogue in hopes that today will be different from all our previous visits. I do not cling to illusions of grandeur but I do refuse to give up on Anton. He deserves my devotion. His brilliant mind is a rare and precious gift and there is much to be learned from him. On his birthday, October 28th, I visit Anton with the same agenda in mind.

    He is there, in his room, silently sitting at an empty metal writing table. His hands are clasped and resting on its cold surface. There are no books, no paper, no envelopes, writing pens or blotters. There is nothing. Why is he sitting there, I wonder? I’ve never found him there before.

    Fred: “Hello, ole’ chap! It’s good to see you up, sitting at your desk! Would you like for me to provide you with some writing utensils and supplies?”

    The silences are always awkward for me and I’ve learned to press on.

    Fred: “I happened to see Alice Batchelder at the library this week and she sends her regards. She seemed most concerned for you…”

    My voice trailed off as I realized Anton, for the first time, had averted his stare and was now looking at me, full on. Had I said something wrong? Had I offended?

    Fred: “My friend, please talk to me. Tell me what troubles you, so.” I said, leaning in to him.

    After a long pause, Anton tries to explain but I am confused. He is not himself. His voice has a dry, parched, tone. I wonder if this is the very first time he has spoken in months. His speech is slow and cautious. He has a childlike innocence, his eyes are moist and I sense that I, inadvertently through mentioning the very name of Alice, have hit a disquieting nerve.

    Anton: “They… quote the Holy Scriptures to me. They…tell me…that it is not God’s will that…Alice…accepts my proposal of marriage…or…that my father live a long and …healthy life.”

    Fred, “Who, my friend, who?”

    Tears fill Anton’s eyes to overflowing as his pent-up grief spills down from his eyes, trickling down his cheeks and dropping onto his robe. I reach for my handkerchief but do not want to interrupt him. My heart is beating wildly and my ears are ringing.

    Anton stands, running his hands through his hair and wiping the tears from his face he begins to pace slowly alongside his bed as I watch intently. He lifts his hand through the air, saying,

    Anton: “With just a wave of their hand, the physicians dismiss the most important elements of my life. They wish for me to believe that I am, simply, consumed by a most profound and unmistakable madness. I am not to be understood!”

    He has ceased to be tearful and has worked his way over to the metal desk where upon he leans toward me and with every bit the determination I once revered, he looked at me, full on and said,

    Anton: “I must make them see that the… the… things that allow me to be… understood…to be validated…are the things that will help me to heal. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

    I studied his face. I knew that he had made a discovery of a sort but I wasn’t at all sure what he meant. I had every confidence, however, that he would reveal his discovery to me and I knew that we would shed light on this together. Anton’s maternal family was among the founders of Indiana University. His brilliance was inherited, for certain.

    My elation, however, was not in the thrill of a new project with Anton but, rather, I realized I had my best friend back, again.

    I realized, as well, that Anton was fully aware of one surety; if there existed a human being on the face of the earth who would make a full- fledged attempt to truly understand him, it would be I, his most devoted friend and colleague.

    And, so it was, the coming years were spent in our pouring through existing research materials, studying Anton’s experiences in both Boston Psychiatric and Westboro State Hospitals and reading endless Seminary and psychiatric texts in an effort to understand how both Psychiatrists and Pastoral leaders were taught to minister to the sick and the emotionally impaired.

    It became increasingly clear to Anton that while each had their useful qualities, neither the Psychiatrist or the Pastor had the training to give him all of what he truly needed; understanding through a person who truly “listened to his pain” so that he could begin to finally heal. The missing puzzle piece that kept him locked up in his catatonic misery for so many years was his frustration over the elements in his life that brought him tremendous pain.

    I am so honored to have assisted my best friend, Anton Boisen, as he created a program where learning occurred not through the reading of endless books and materials but rather through the study of the “living human document” and to focus attention upon those who are grappling with the issues of spiritual life and death. He chronicled his discovery in 1944.

    Through Anton’s brilliant leadership and research he founded the Clinical Pastoral Education program and worked tirelessly in this field until his passing on October 2nd, 1965. Throughout his 88 years, his contributions to the wellness of generations the world over will continue for ages to come. The existence of the Clinical Chaplain grew exponentially in the 40 years following the institution of his C.P.E. program for which his pioneering efforts were directly responsible. His entire life was dedicated to the study of the living human document and I was deeply honored to have been a part of his remarkable journey.

    _______________________________
    Peggy Hardinge, a second unit CPE Intern at Meritus Medical Center, Hagerstown, Maryland that is directed by David Baker, Ph.D. She is active in community theatre with over 50 plays to her credit. In addition, Peggy works as the First Surgical Assistant in the Meritus Medical Center Operating Room.

    Email: hunt.hardinge@gmail.com