Generally you have to pack for all weathers in chaplaincy. You never know what weather front is coming in to the life in front of you. What was a sunny day last week may be a great storm, or what was weeks of bleak grey drizzle, the skies have parted and light streams in. I have walked into profoundly spiritual spaces and had to instantly try and tune in. I have walked into spaces that appear devoid of all hope and are defined entirely by what is absent.
One of the truest things I know is that the next fifteen minutes matter, because they are all we have, because they are moments which are lived, they are moments when we are in each others company and affirming the validity of each other being there. All that is required of us is to occupy the next 15 minutes because those 15 minutes may allow a person to be harm free, safe, comforted, recognise that they are on solid ground. There is a marvellous gift in being a chaplain where your being there allows a person to carve out a space to connect themselves with what matters most to them. Of all the 15 minutes they have available to them, and I have available to me, these ones are sacred. So yes I may need a brolly, or wellies, or a thick skin, or sunscreen, or a good sense of humour, or a wind proof jacket. This is ok. I have a big bag. Chaplaincy is for all weathers, all climates, all temperatures, all of it, and it is ever-changing. Best to be prepared.
It also means there may be a need for a short respite in the loo, or in the car park where you metaphorically change out of your now cold, wet shoes. You cannot wear those all day, it will make you miserable. So there have been times when I literally, physically stood outside and had to ‘shake off’ what doesn’t serve me after an encounter. I take off my metaphorical rain coat and hang it out to dry. If I just hurriedly bundle it up in a bag and stick it in the boot it will be mouldy and useless next time I need it. So I find a way to take it off, hang it up, let it dry out. I will need it again.