I’m finishing up my packet for SES training.
If that sentence sounded too Army to be understood, then hooah. (to be interpreted, I get it) What that means is this – any time a person is making a move in the Army, wanting to advance their career by getting some further education or “going to school” etc – they “put in a packet.” Every packet is different, mostly it’s a compilation of your military record, sometimes it’ll include your civilian school records and whatever else the board might be looking for.
SES is the school for CPE Supervisors. If you want to become a CPE Supervisor in the Army, you need to put together a packet, go before a board made up of Army CPE Supervisors, get invited into the program and then later go through a board of civilian CPE supervisors who *might* declare you ready to become a candidate. Then, over the course of several years, you continue going before committees of civilian supervisors who will evaluate your learning and decide if you are ready for the Associate Supervisor Board. If they deem you ready, then you are in. You are Made. You become an ACPE Associate Supervisor and are able to run a CPE center. After this, you have one more board and you become a Full Supervisor. (Click here if you are wondering just what Clinical Pastoral Education is all about)
This packet I am doing is literally the gateway to a gateway.
At this point, I have the three papers done and just need to finish my Verbatim and it’ll be presentable. At least, I hope so…
Why do this? Why go through all this pain just to be told (I am certain) that I am an interesting candidate and to keep trying, there might be a place for me in the future? I have asked myself that question many times in the last couple months as I’ve worked through my personal biography, my understanding of the CPE process, my theology, and educational viewpoint as well as my strengths/weaknesses and motivation to enter SES training.
I believe I’m called. I believe that a calling is where my talents/gifting/desire meet a need that exists in the world. I love teaching. I miss the classroom. I really enjoy the groups I’ve been able to facilitate in the Prison. I am using the metaphor of the “Wilderness Guide” as my educational model. The guide knows the terrain. They are familiar with how to survive in the wilderness. They know the safeties to use and the way back should the group get lost. They can read the compass. They are also a teacher, delighted in experiencing new things. They love it when the group discovers what they have seen for the first time.
In the context of leading a group, I came to this while working through grief and loss with some inmates: I am familiar with the terrain of suffering. I know pain. I know loss and am “acquainted with grief.” I also know safety and can identify when someone needs a break or might be about to share something inappropriate for the setting. I am learning when to “come up for air” and when to “dig deeper.” Moreover, I delight in learning. I love to experience when someone discovers something new about themselves for the first time. When the room goes from being a classroom filled with suffering, struggling humans to a sacred space where God is present, active, and alive; working in the moment in the lives of my fellow travelers. This is how I know I need to do this work.
This, I believe, is the calling that will get me through the next few years – and that’s what it’ll take to just get into the program!!