I originally studied pharmaceutical management at university but then went on to study theology at Durham as part of training for ordination in the Church of England.
For the past 15 years, though, I have been working in health care chaplaincy - I think my feeling of vocation to ministry always had a strong sense of being called to work in this field, meeting people and supporting them through particularly difficult times.
Healthcare chaplains minister to a community of staff, patients and those that matter to them who face some of the most profound human experiences.
Within this context we pay attention to the meanings and stories of people’s lives, hopes, beliefs and doubts.
One of the more unusual aspects of the past year was that we had three weddings to organise, two at the hospice and one at the patient’s home and that involved applying to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Facility Office for a special licence for the ceremonies to go ahead.
I was involved in both the hospice weddings and both went very well, though they were very different.
The first was a couple who had been together many years so in some ways they were wanting to acknowledge their relationship, while with the other couple there was a sadness that they were at the start of their journey.
There is something about a wedding, something to do with the ritual, that makes it a rite of passage and though these two ceremonies had a very different feel, they were both very special.
Being part of that process was all part of the holistic care that we offer at St Luke’s and is also part of a much bigger package of support.
To individuals, and the institutions that we work in, chaplains are a reminder of a transcendent dimension to life.
For me, as a Christian, that dimension includes the divine, though for others it may be music, nature or something else entirely.
In allowing space for ‘the other,’ chaplains enable people to keep searching and wrestling with questions of the ultimate, and to connect, re-connect or deepen their connection to that which is transcendent or ‘other’ to them.