Monday, October 02, 2006

The Voice of a Chaplain

Of the various predictable questions that plague chaplains, this one causes perhaps the most annoyance, or at least tired sadness: “So, would you ever consider returning to the ministry?” The point of the question is to ask whether we might consider congregational ministry. And while I continue to uphold the position that the normative experience of the believer is the congregation, and so the normative minister is the minister in the congregation, I get as tired as most at the suggestion that my ministry is not real ministry at all.

Thus, I was pleased to hear this evening during my evening commute the voice of a colleague. The voice was that of Susan Cosio, a chaplain at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, California. The venue was her essay in the “This I Believe” series on “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio (NPR). You can hear her essay or read the text here. I encourage you to do so.


Susan Palwick said...

Hi, Marshall! My husband sent me this link too; he'd heard on NPR last week that this week's piece was going to be by a chaplain, and remembered to check and send it to me.

While I enjoyed her piece, I'm not sure how it relates specifically to chaplaincy; it seems to me to be more about the discernment process any of us have to use in the middle of busy lives.

And as for the ministry question: everything's ministry, isn't it? So I think the correct response if someone says, "Have you thought of returning" is, "Goodness! I never knew I'd left!"

Marshall Scott said...

Thanks, Susan. Usually I'm on top of that response. And, really, I usually just laugh. I have other colleagues who seem to take it harder.