Monday, June 13, 2005

stranger and stranger...

I'm posting from the CPE computers at Lutheran. This means I'm posting in Internet Explorer, in windows that have their "close" buttons in the upper right corner. It keeps throwing me off.

The other thing that's weird today is that I ordered my first clergy shirt and collars. Up to last week, I've insisted that I don't really like the seminarian collar and therefore didn't plan on wearing one for CPE. In general, I still don't prefer it. Most people don't understand the black stripe, so it ends up signifying things I'm not really ready or permitted to signify yet, and often encourages clericalism. Last week, though, they handed us our dark blue lab coats (which is the chaplain's uniform here) and I realized that I really didn't like what that signified to me. Again, I don't object to what it's supposed to signify - that I'm a chaplain - but most people don't know the color system for lab coats. If someone walks into my hospital room wearing a lab coat, that signifies to me that they have power and I don't, and that they're there to make me do something and/or do something to me. As a chaplain, that's not what I'm aiming for. I realized when I got my coat that I'd much rather be wearing a collar to indicate that I'm a chaplain. At the hospital, nearly anything the collar signifies is actually true for me - while I'm not ordained and therefore cannot consecrate the Eucharist, I am the official pastoral presence and I am licensed to do emergency baptisms, anoint with pre-consecrated oils, and administer pre-consecrated Eucharist. Nine times out of ten here, it won't matter if people don't realize that I'm not ordained - and if it does matter, I can explain it. And when a family wants me to baptize their baby or help them call their son, I'm not going to be interested in lecturing about clericalism.

This is all by way of explaining to my readers and reminding myself why I'll soon be putting on my first clericals, and why that seems to be the right thing to do now. It's weird, and I'm not entirely comfortable with it yet, and there will still be times when I need to wear the lab coat (for instance, for easy recognition in the ER), but I'm going to try the collar sometimes. I've only ordered one clergy shirt - if the collar thing still seems right after I start trying it, maybe I'll look into getting a couple adjusted so I have more than one work shirt. If it doesn't, I'll take the electrical tape off the collar and put it all in a drawer for another couple of years.

I'll let you know what happens.

3 comments:

Dave said...

Rock those clericals!

Emily said...

The first time I put on a collar was down in the bookstore and I couldn't stop laughing at myself in the mirror. I wore a seminarian's collar at my church in Belleville for the year between seminary and ordination. It felt weird at first but it was right for all the reasons you just mentioned. I don't get the chaplains in lab coat thing, either.

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