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The Doorway to Chaplaincy ~ Part II

Now you can understand my dilemma, because we have thousands of churches, thousands of priests and spiritual leaders all...

The Sikh Chaplain Part 2

Now you can understand my dilemma, because we have thousands of churches, thousands of priests and spiritual leaders all across the world, and many kinds of religions. What new insight or thought do I have to offer? And yet with all the wisdom of the ages we still live in profound confusion, deep insecurity, and coping mechanisms that protect us from the helplessness we feel to our inner pain. Even more so, spirituality is such a personal thing; it doesn't seem like there's a cookie cutter belief system where we all fall into- it's personal and individual and that makes it that much more complicated. I was affected by this and it confused me, but I couldn't deny the simple fact that we hurt as a humanity even amidst vast religions and doctrines present at this time.

Chaplaincy Group (83K)

This is our chaplain group in training on a field trip to an Orthodox Christian Monastery called St. Anthony's. My supervisor and Chaplain educator is just to my right.

After some time of deliberating I took counsel with my Spiritual Teacher, Sangeet Kaur Khalsa. Her ability to 'see me' offered new insights to my process that I had not thought of. The blessing of our meeting together came through with guidance towards Hospital Chaplaincy. After debriefing with her for some time about this, I finally had to ask her, 'What's a Hospital Chaplain?' My only understanding was that I was developing in a new career, and that wasn't part of my plan. She said, 'Reach out and out reach; go touch the lives of people.' I experienced the bolt of lightning that comes when truth hits the heart but I couldn't deny the inconvenience of exploring a new field of study so soon after completing a comprehensive medical program.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, Sangeet connected me to Sat Kartar Kaur Khalsa-Ramey, a dedicated and divine soul who has been serving as a Chaplain for over 25 years and who has recently retired from the prestigious role as Chaplain Educator. As one of the very few Sikh Chaplains in the country, her mentorship guided me through uncharted waters of this new field and proved to be helpful in my journey of discovery. After a year of applying I was finally accepted into a program and began my studies in Chaplaincy.

Immediately I found that I was called towards this work of 'Professional Ministry' as a Hospital Chaplain - A way in which I could be present with people in their suffering when they are experiencing crisis. In Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak teaches,

Ketiaa Dukh Bukh Sad Maar, Eh Bee Daat Teri Daataar,

So many endure distress, deprivation and constant abuse,
Even these are your Gifts, O Great Giver!

This line always bothered me and I always questioned its truth. My human mind wrestled with Guru Nanak asking, "Really? These tragic events that take place in our lives and civilization are really gifts?" As I reflected further a simple understanding came across that we use culturally as a cliché, 'challenges are blessings in disguise.' Simply put, but with a grain of Truth that gave me access to understanding that perhaps truly there is a blessing that underlies these seemingly unconnected traumatic events of our life that actually have great meaning and great purpose, and to understand that blessing different eyes and wider wisdom are needed to understand it. Perhaps there is no challenge in life that is not meant to teach us something, to help us grow, or to take us out of the illusion of Maya and see the 'Sat,' the truth in all things. Not an easy task, and perhaps the most difficult teaching we must face as humanity.

Singh Sahib Amar Atma Singh Khalsa

SS Amar Atma Singh Khalsa is currently a Chaplain at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. This series of five articles describes his journey and experience to becoming a Hospital Chaplain. Amar Atma Singh has a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is a minister through Sikh Dharma International. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

SS Amar Atma Singh - Copy (16K)

Related Article:

Searching for a Path ~ Sikh Chaplain Part-I


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