What happens in process, stays in process. This is the law, laid down very early. That being said, I’m going to talk a little bit about process, if in an abstract way.
First of all, I never expected process or anything like it to be part of the curriculum. However, I am very glad that it is, most days. I say “most days” because process can be emotionally draining and there have been a few weeks I schlub through the remainder of Wednesday afternoon in recovery mode. Process, I’m learning, is a process of barring one’s soul. (If we forget for a moment we are all Buddhists and don’t properly believe in any such thing as a soul.) And even when occasionally draining, especially for an introvert like me, it is still beyond doubt a positive experience. It is an exercise in compassion.
Process is where we bring the things that are going on in our lives and talk about them in a circle of our fellow chaplaincy students and our teacher, Danny. Relationships, family, work, money, sleep, class, stress, joy, frustration, grief, fear, anger, and hope are all given shape in words and expressions and gestures. It’s where I broke down crying two weeks ago when I learned I wouldn’t be receiving my financial aid on time. It’s where Corey talked about breaking up with his girlfriend. It’s where we hash out conflicts with one another. Basically, process is where we “chaplain and are chaplained to,” in Danny’s words.
We are learning and practicing reflective listening, conflict mediation, and myriad other skills. Sometimes we are more successful than other times. We are also supporting each other, building deep friendships, and drawing together into a cohesive unit that will very likely survive beyond graduation.
If you have found yourself here, you have no doubt learned that I hold very little back. I count very little in my life as private, sacred, or taboo. However, I am concerned to safeguard the privacy of others. For that reason, most of the friends and acquaintances I mention here on the blog are those who have some kind of web presence of their own, such as Danny and Corey. By creating their own blogs they have chosen to open a part of their lives (though by no means all) to public consumption. The bravery of this choice should never be underestimated (except in my case where I’m just too stupid to know better). But for the rest, though they are dear to me and hugely influential, I shall likely make very little mention of them, except as an abstract collective - my classmates or the chaplaincy students. Yet know that very quickly we are all coming to have a somewhat closer relationship to one another than I, at least, would ever have expected, even among such a small cohort at such a small university.
This is, I believe, a very good thing and due,in large part, to what we call “process.”