Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Critical Incidents

Ever since 9/11, when the heroism of the fire fighters burned my soul, I have thought that I should hone a talent which might be useful to persons in crisis, so that I too, might go where I was needed. I'll never be a fire fighter, I thought, but I am a decent listener, and people who have experienced trauma need listeners. Eventually I came across "Critical Incident Stress Management," a kind of emergency counseling protocol, taught in two day courses and the like, and which is supposed to help prevent Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Taking one of those courses has been on my to-do list for nearly five years now, and I periodically checked the web site to see if the courses they offered (usually in Baltimore) could ever coincide with a trip to see my family or another conference. They never did. I didn't exactly pursue this; for starters, there's a self-protective part of me that would like to continue to hide behind lack of training when disaster strikes and the call for volunteers goes out. But that's just an excuse. My work has several times put me in the place of listening while someone talks out their feelings about a traumatic experience, and I know that I can make do with the training I have. If the call came, I'd go. It would be best to get this specific training. Money and time got in the way.

During a sabbatical, one has time, so I started to think about this goal once again. My prayer has been for a productive sabbatical, however that might happen, and some would say that my prayer was answered. One casual inquiry of a friend produced the news that Presbyterian Hospital was holding just such a course in May for its employees, and there were enough openings that they'd consider having a non-employee join the group.

Some would call this syncronicity; I think of it as going with the flow; Taoist style. I have a friend who would, I think, call it a coincidence. "Coincidences happen," he says, with a twinkle in his eye, "But I find that when I pray, they happen more often." I don't have any way to process that thought; a God who makes it easy for me to take a little course but leaves the rest of the world in such a mess just doesn't compute. Still I have to agree; that's been my experience, too. It has also been my experience that following up on these striking coincidences/answers to prayer is a good thing.

So I sent in my fee; such a modest $30 that I will be forever beholden to use the certification I get for the good of my fellow human beings. I did it quickly so I wouldn't chicken out. And now two days in May are booked for this Sabbatical. Hopefully there will be no national disasters on which to practice what I learn.

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