let me start this one with a short story. i have the great privilege to be a person who is, generally, in very good health. i have nothing against modern medical care--i simply (and thankfully) don't find myself in need of it very often. many years ago though, i had to undergo an intensive surgery requiring a hospital stay. the whole experience was pretty foreign and disorienting, and as part of that stay, i remember someone popping into my room and asking, apropos of nothing, "do you need a chaplain?". i thought to myself, "a chaplain?? i'm not dying and i don't go to church, so no? i don't think?". looking back, i wonder how that day might have been different if someone had taken the time to say "hey, this is a big thing that you're doing, and we have people here who do nothing but listen if that's something that would be helpful to you right now. they can even just sit with you quietly or pray or meditate with you if that would bring you ease. would you like to have a visit with one of our chaplains?". game changer. yes. i want to see that person.
historically, chaplaincy has been the purview of old white men academically learned in the theologies, laws, and ways of the abrahamic religions. they're priests or rabbis or imams. they're people with access to higher education who have masters of divinity degrees from prestigious universities. they're high-ups in specific faith denominations. they lead flocks. more and more though, as populations leave churches, there is a growing group of people who, despite their lack of religious affiliation, still desire active values enquiry, deep dives into meaning-making, and companioning through processes of soul-level discernment. the "spiritual but not religious" are one of the fastest growing belief demographics in the united states, and although they (we) may lack church homes, the need and desire for spiritual care still exists.
this need is one of the many reasons that i'm becoming an interfaith chaplain. unlike those ordained within a specific faith tradition and in possession of traditional graduate-level theological training, interfaith chaplains are trained to be compassionate presences for people of any religious background, including the variety present within the category of "none". we're trained to hold space for secular humanists, the devoutly religious, the solitarily spiritual, and everything in between. interfaith chaplaincy recognizes that spiritual care is a crucial aspect of holistic wellness for all people, regardless of what systems of thought they use to make meaning of their lives and of the world around them.
in my other vocations as an educator and birth worker, i was introduced to the profound power of presence as well as to the idea that everyone holds within them their best right answers (though they can be quite elusive at times!). interfaith chaplaincy is very much a kind of life midwifery, and rather than effusive advice-giving, the chaplain knows how to use honest, open questions in combination with active listening to help you figure yourself out (or at least start in that direction). chaplains aren't therapists or counselors. we aren't medical providers or influencers. we're the friend who's heard you've had a wild day, who invites you in to sit by the hearth fire with a hot cup of tea, and who wants to hear all about your troubles and triumphs.
quite simply, we want to bear witness to you as you make sense of yourself.
book a visit, or read on!
what is an interfaith chaplain?
what kinds of things can a chaplain help me with?
as a chaplain, i am, above all things, so incredibly privileged to be a witness to, and a collector of, stories. happy stories, sad stories, amazing stories, scary stories. stories of transformation, uncertainty, growth, and overcoming. stories that absolutely MUST come out, but may have nowhere else safe or productive to go. in our chats, you can tell me stories of:
a big decision that you need to make but are uncertain about
a transformative event like a birth or a death
a problem that would benefit more from listening than from solutions
a religious or spiritual experience from which you want to make meaning
personal struggle and growth
caregiving or compassion fatigue (i see you, midwives, doctors and nurses)
truly, the possibilities are endless and are shaped entirely by what's on your heart and mind.
in addition to witnessing and holding your truths and stories, i can also be a companion alongside you for any sort of spiritual enquiry. chaplains can help people identify and articulate values and beliefs, design and try on spiritual practices, explore ideas about the divine and about our place in the cosmos, clarify goals and desires... again, endless possibilities.
and then there's the magic of showing up completely without goal or agenda and seeing what naturally bubbles up to the surface. in my own experience being chaplained, i've always been amazed at what comes straight from my heart to my mouth, even when i didn't think i had anything to share.
book a visit, or for a deeper dive, check out my post "who needs a chaplain?".
what can i expect?
my sessions are offered via no-questions-asked sliding scale. if you want to pay more or need to pay less than any of the offerings you see, send me an email. access and equity are vital components to my interfaith chaplaincy work.
when you book your first visit with me, i'll send you a questionnaire to fill out so that i can get a better sense of who you are and what you're looking for. fill all of it out, fill some of it out, fill none of it out--do as you feel called.
after booking your visit, you'll receive an invitation for our virtual session. while i'd very much like to share space and tea and a hearth fire with you in person, pandemic safety, access, and physical distance of chaplainees all make virtual meetings safer and more readily available right now.
your visit will start with a moment of silence, which you will be invited to break when you're ready to begin. where the conversation goes after that is up to you! i will tailor my presence to you based on what needs you've indicated in your questionnaire, most notably whether you'd prefer listening, solution suggestions, or a little of both. i have no agenda. i don't want or need to fix anything about you. i accept you precisely as you are. my use of honest, open questions in conversation serves only to help you find your right way through the issue at hand, or to deepen your expression of your story or experience.
we'll end the hour with another moment of silence. afterwards, it's right to book another session, it's right only to need or want the one, and it's right to have no clue what to do next. i don't offer complicated "life fixing" packages or designer coaching subscriptions--i simply and truly have a seat by the fire and a hot cup of tea with your name on it, whenever you have need.