Three weeks ago, I took a Lyft to Stamford, caught an Amtrak into Moynihan Hall, and transferred to an overnight train to Chicago. I briefly saw my son, but my destination was Sheboygan, Wisconsin. For three months I will be “doing a unit” of Clinical Pastoral Education (“CPE”) as the student chaplain in a hospital. I have made a point of going outside my known surroundings, my comfort zone, to learn and grow. For 23 years I had lived in Chicago, a big city, and have spent the past year with you at Westport and based out of Norwalk. Moving outside of familiarity creates an awareness in our bodies to change, and as long as we are not stretched too far, we move into the “Zone of Proximal Development” – our learning zone.
Sheboygan’s total population is similar to Norwalk’s, but is surrounded by rural areas. This area is “whiter” and has a much lower average income, and Wisconsin is a “purple” state. In the hospital setting I am meeting people of different religious and denominational backgrounds than what I am familiar with. As I am stretching my understanding of a new location and its people, I will be stretching my understanding of myself. CPE is known for deeply challenging us personally, and is considered a vital experience for a UU seminarian’s faith formation. During this time, I will work with a cohort of 5 other religiously diverse seminarians, and I am fortunate to have Chaplain Tracey Wilkinson, a UU, as my supervisor, a rare and enjoyable experience indeed. Still, this will be an intense 3 months – they do call this an “Intensive” after all.
At the end of August, I will gather in Chicago with other seminarians at Meadville Lombard, meeting in person for the first time in many semesters. After Labor Day, I will return to TUCW for my second, final year of internship with you.
This last year has been a unique time to become familiar to people, so I look forward to catching up as I meet you, many for the first time while not on ZOOM, Facebook or email. I look forward to learning more about what you have missed about TUCW, as well as what you realized that you valued. Reach out, as you can, and let’s share . . . Why is TUCW our congregational home? What speaks to us and stirs our spirits? What feeds our minds, touches our hearts and animates our hands to action?
When I return, I will begin my Internship Initiative, which will be grounded in Earth Ministry. I will not be abandoning, but will be incorporating, considerations of racial justice. My own understanding will continue to expand as we explore our relationships and how to nurture each other. Over the summer, reach out to me if you have thoughts, suggestions or questions about exploring this new and continual ministry of the Earth. Click HERE to email me. You may not hear from me until closer to the fall, but I would love to hear your contributions as I collect ideas and consider how we may love the Earth, together.
Warmly, Kim Warman