Highlights: The take-aways from this year’s forum included the book “Professional Spiritual & Pastoral Care” A Practical Clergy and Chaplain’s Handbook

There were several opportunities for information sharing and network time, including Q & A time for members to ask questions about Sacred Well.

Capt Don Larsen and Capt Tiffany Andes performed the Opening Prayer & Sacred Time Meditation. A separate copy of the meditation (as part of the service) will be included below.

This year’s focus on Pastoral Care mainly pertained to hospital ministry along with other forms like prison ministry, etc. There was also a rising concern with maintaining the integrity of the Chaplaincy program as a whole when rising budget costs force hospitals and healthcare facilities to justify the purpose of a Chaplaincy program. There were several discussions and a lecture on the need to combine resources across diverse avenues of ministry (i.e. combining funding resources and research in pastoral care)

The lectures were followed by the voting-in of the new officer leadership.

A little background on COMISS:

  1. The purpose of the COMISS Network is to provide its membership with a unique forum for communication, networking, and advocacy beyond the common calling to pastoral ministry.
  2. The mission of the COMISS Network is: We are a pre-eminent network of organizations committed to the preparation and practice of multi-faith spiritual care through chaplaincy and pastoral counseling in specialized settings and promotes and supports collaboration among its members.
  3. The objectives of the COMISS Network are:
    • To provide a forum for dialogue among those who share a similar mission, nationally and internationally.
    • To encourage shared programs/resources in order to increase collaboration and reduce duplication among members
    • To advocate professionalism in standards and service in the provision of multi-faith-based care and counseling
    • To educate out constituency and various publics regarding the value of professional, multi-faith-based care and counseling
    • To propose plan initiatives that further our purpose.
    • To encourage research into experience-based pastoral care and counseling

Yule Ritual Meditation

Settle yourself. Close your eyes. Feel your body relax. Feel as the tensions drain first from your face, your neck, your shoulders, your arms, your torso, then your legs. Sense the whole of your body, calm, and heavy in its relaxation. Center yourself. Feel for that calm, comfortable center, in which you are whole. Ground yourself. Extend yourself into the earth, your mother. Feel as your roots grow into the ground, as you find your connectedness with her again.

This time is the time of Yule, the Winter Solstice, when the sun clings most closely to the horizon. It is a time for rebirth. While many months of winter still await us, the days now begin to lengthen, holding behind the hoary frost the promise of the gentle breath of Spring.

Extend your senses beyond the walls, to the world outside. Smell in the crisp cold a hint of snows yet to come. See, in your mind's eye, the clear clean air. Old dry leaves, long fallen, rustle as they tumble around, caught finally in the tangled stems of dormant shrubs. Bark cracks in the hard frost, and breaks away, falling unnoticed to the earth.

The last of the fall berries dance and sway in the wind, the wind that moans through black branches, crooked fingers that rip the bellies of low heavy clouds. Snow swirls silently into the frozen tracks of squirrels and foxes, rabbits and raccoons, revealing their secret paths. Jays call raucously, as sparrows fluff their breast feathers, puffing up and huddling close to conserve their meager heat.

The fields lie bare, the harvest of wheat, pumpkins and corn safe in the barns. The crows scavenge for stray grains which escaped the harvester's blade. The orchards are empty, their leaves tossed by the storms, their fruit deep in the cellars.

We - we are snug, cocooned in the warmth of our homes and the warmth of our kith and our kin. The winds will howl with the wolves as we remember the harvest just past, and we rest and regenerate as we look to the rebirth of life in the Spring. For now the sun is returned, beginning his slow journey, regaining his ascendancy, as the wheel turns again.

Take this time to focus on new beginnings, and the whisper of dreams and ambitions yet unrealized. Like the seeds that lay beneath the winter snows, their birth will come forth with the return of Spring. Just as the crops will grow as a result of work and dedication—so too will new resolutions come to pass as a result of work and dedication.

Now, take a deep breath, rouse yourself slowly and surely with the calm knowledge that this day and every day that follows is a new journey toward your destination. Join us, and celebrate the birth of the sun!