I am doing a Clinical Pastoral Education course at Grey's Hospital for the next three weeks. The idea is for pastors to get a grip on being part of a healing team, rather than seeing ourselves as independent agents. We will learn more about hospital routines and what visiting pastors should and shouldn't do - in terms of getting in the way rather than helping! It is also very practical which is something that I have been looking for. I have done many counselling courses, but have always felt it would be nice to see it done properly or have more guidance myself in a real situation.
Today we were allocated to wards and, amongst other things, spent two and a half hours in two sessions visiting the patients. In the afternoon my ingenuity ran out - just over half of my patients don't speak English and I couldn't think of anything more to say, anyway. So I just sat in one of the general wards and made notes on my cell phone and listened to the general chatter. After a while they started to include me and I actually thought it worked quite well.
I was quite pleased with how well my scrappy Zulu was understood - actually, I was completely taken aback when the first lady I spoke to was able to respond to me first time with my questions (I wanted to shake her - do you really understand? My odd Zulu and funny accent? hallelujah!). But it will never take us to even superficial pastoral conversations, never mind profound ones.
Two of the non-English-speakers were from Greytown, which at least gave us some common ground.
This is going to be a tough course for me with my sometimes super-introvertedness, but I think it will help me do better in future. Two weeks and four days to go!