‘wake’

There was a ‘wake’ recently for a marvelous and brilliant artist who has been an influence on me since my teens. Norval Morrisseau died, passed over into the spirit world, a world which, it seems, he already dwelled in, bringing its astonishing, shocking and vivid messages to us in the world of the living. I remember being deeply moved, and magnetised, by the explosive energy of the colours he used, and by the magical themas which he dwelled in: the transforming and transfiguring shamans, the manimals, the codes of connecting forces of energy.

I am thrilled by the use of the word ‘wake’.
The gathering of people; friends, family, loved ones, after someone has left.
Ain’t it true that when something, someone, dies we ourselves are presented a door by which to ‘wake’ up. A slap in the face, a kick in the ass, a shot straight into the diaphragm of your being which leaves you gasping for breath.
‘Waking’ requires the death of the dream we’ve been living in. That dream being precisely everything we know and understand and trust about ourselves.

So, I’m thrilled that there is a deep embed of the word ‘wake’ into the language and experience of death. Wisely wrestled, bravely battled, death becomes a pry bar, a lever, to awakening.

‘Wake’ : a most valuable addition to any useful lexicon.

soul whole

“There’s something like a hole in all of us,
and it’s in the approximate shape of a soul.”

http://homepage.mac.com/personamedia/iMovieTheater52.html

Stephen Jenkinson

Oct. 17, 2006

Oct. 17, 2006

Moved both home and office over the last month.

This, combined with significant financial strain, has kept me from pursuing the fascinating issue of discrimination through CAPPE (the Chaplaincy Training Residency) at the University Health Network, where I was barred from proceeding in my residency because I did not have an MA in Theology ( a Christian degree).

There has been some significant interest in the situation. I will be meeting with Andrew Munger, who did a doc for Vision TV on my Residency while I was in it last year. Also, Janice Stein, Director of the Munck Institute of International Studies, to whom I forwarded a copy of the paper I submitted to the UHN, expressed great interest. The issues are rich and complex: the tension between the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and Religious Freedoms; the differentiation between Religion, and Spirituality; the differences between religious training and psychological training; the differences between an MA in Theology and training in Trauma and Grief Counselling; the needs of the patients and staff on teh floors of the UHN right now.

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CAPPE at the UHN: An Impediment to Care?

CAPPE at the UHN: An Impediment to Care?

The role of Chaplaincy at the UHN raises some thorny issues with regard to the role of religious care in a contemporary multicultural urban hospital. Two key questions emerge: 1) given that the majority of patients do not enter their faith background on admission, and that the dominant spiritual and emotional paradigm in contemporary urban Canada is psychology, are CAPPE trained Chaplains the optimal choice of care for meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of patients and staff at the UHN?; 2) given that few, if any, religions meet the ethical standards set out by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, is the UHN ethically compromised by its dependence on (dominantly Christian) religious to manage it’s emotional and spiritual care?

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July 3: CAPPE at the UHN

July 3: CAPPE at the UHN

Completed a doc on my Chaplaincy experience. Grateful to some good friends and professionals for aiding me in the editing; most of all, for helping me get my own ass out of the way of the view so that the document could be objective and more useful.

The introductory paragraph is below, and summarises the direction of the doc.

“The role of Chaplaincy at the UHN raises some thorny issues with regard to the role of religious care in a contemporary multicultural urban hospital. Two key questions emerge: 1) given that the majority of patients do not enter their faith background on admission, and that the dominant spiritual and emotional paradigm in contemporary urban Canada is psychology, are CAPPE trained Chaplains the optimal choice of care for meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of patients and staff at the UHN?; 2) given that few, if any, religions meet the ethical standards set out by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, is the UHN ethically compromised by its dependence on (dominantly Christian) religious to manage it’s emotional and spiritual care?”

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May 28 – Migrating from ‘Chaplaincy’ to ‘Spiritual Care’

Spent the latter part of last week completing a 10 – 15 page ‘report’ on my experience in Chaplaincy Training at the UHN and with CAPPE. Entitled “Migrating from ‘Chaplaincy’ to ‘Spiritual Care’ at the UHN: Confusion and Discrimination in UHN ‘Chaplaincy Services'” it outlines my own experience in the training, and observes a number of entrenched discriminatory practises.
I have only been working in the UHN for nine months (a potential career arrested by the need for an MA in Theology) but it seems self-evident that the UHN needs to seriously attend to the patients, families and staff on the Wards, not based on a tradition of Chaplaincy, or on a set of educational standards provided by CAPPE, but on their actual needs as expressed by their spiritual and emotional systems of comprehension. There is no question in my mind that Spiritual Care is both needed and greatly appreciated, but Chaplaincy at the UHN, as it stands, is debilitated by intransigent antiquated religious notions which have no place in a contemporary Canadian urban hospital.

Skills in trauma counseling, in grief counseling, and in psychotherapy, all of which would be exceptionally useful for a Spiritual Care Practitioner, do not require a specific faith background. Openness to Spirituality, in all its diversity, necessity and deep healing capacity, is indeed a requisite. But training in any one specific Religion does not guarantee the Spiritual openness to meet every new patient where they are at; it can, indeed, stand in the way of it.

Would it not make sense to assemble a divers team of Staff, Patients, Practitioners of the Therapeutic Health Sciences, as well as Chaplains, and local ‘Spiritual Innovators’, inviting them to redefine what ‘Spiritual Care Practise’ is, as delineated from ‘Religious Care’, and understanding that the ‘Secular’ Sciences (trauma + grief counseling, psychotherapy) may have much to offer.

Perhaps a new kind of ‘Spiritual Care Practitioner’ can emerge: one clearly delineated from ‘Religious Care’; one with deep respect for and understanding of the multitude of religious traditions and how religion, or any symbolic language, may evoke and contribute to health; but also one with clear and practical training in trauma and grief counseling, as well as individual and group therapeutic counseling.”

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out of the Chaplaincy Residency at UHN

ahhh, the agony…..

i am, at last, at least for the time being, pulling out of the Chaplaincy Residency at UHN.

It’s been a very rough ride bureaucratically, though I’ve loved the work, and feel like I had much to contribute. 80 hour weeks, baby not sleeping through the nights, the added demands of being ‘Buddhist’ where the standards are Christian, lack of basic surety around work… it’s been like climbing a mountain with your kids strapped on your back, and not knowing what’s at the top….

Disappointing though….
I seriously busted my ass like I’ve never done before….
And the work was beginning to flow deep into a great river of comprehension that I’ve been working away at for a couple of decades – hospitalisation and the nature of catastrophic change, transformation, apocalypse, bardo, journey, quest, ego, etc, etc……
It was all there….

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Ruminations on Emotional and Spiritual Care for presentation to 5 Cardio PCC Rounds

Spirituality is the principle of psychic growth.

Human consciousness is the only living entity that can choose not to grow.

Psychically we grow cyclically.

Addiction is a sick psychle.

Emotions are the symptoms we have to read the spiritual malaise.

Faiths, religions, can enable this growth or, alternately, they can ice growth. So, the tradition itself, or whether there is a tradition at all, is not an indicator of usefulness.

Growth requires change, and physical catastrophe is a terrain of great change. A person who has become very ill must change, is already changed, and so the hospital is a vast and relentless vehicle/machine of change.

It’s the role of the chaplain to engage that change and direct it into transformation.
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