Candle in the Window
By Marie Doty
This edition: Jean Tupper, Prayer Chaplain
Many of us have considered becoming a prayer chaplain but have doubted our ability to find the divinely right prayer for each individual. Jean Tupper had the same doubts, the same concerns.
“I read about the chaplain training in the newsletter,” she says now. “I felt drawn to it and I made the choice to take the training. It was my first experience of being called to do something. It was certainly outside my comfort zone, so it surprised me. However, all the individual chaplains –and even the training process itself – seemed very welcoming.”
Jean laughs a little as she admits it was most challenging. “We were learning affirmative prayer language. There’s an element of trust in that process and I felt supported by the prayer chaplains.” Out of the challenge, however, came a gift. “It opened up a whole new personal prayer life for me. That’s the gift of the program. It deepens and enriches your personal prayer life. That’s why I keep rededicating every year. I think it’s been about eight or nine years now.” And, laughing, adds: “But I’m not sure.”
Her face lights as she says, “There is a wonderful friendship and connection within the ministry – possibly something I was searching for – guiding me. I can’t put a time on it. I began to trust my connection with Spirit in the prayer process. We all feel that the words come from Spirit when we pray with others.
“The process teaches us to be fully present and listen to the person talking to us. Then to pause and let Spirit come through us.” Jean smiles as she quotes: “With two ears, one mouth and an open mind."
A reflective pause and she continues, “Speaking for myself, it was just a process of trust. Most chaplains will tell you that, once they’ve said the prayer, they release it to God in trust – and you forget what you’ve prayed. It’s not anything we do. It’s just released to God. Sometimes the answer is not what we want but it’s for our highest good.”
Another pause and Jean adds, “I live by grace. That beautiful song we sang this morning ‘Grace is Here,’ says it best.” And she quotes,
“Grace is here. Grace will hold you, enfold you in its arms. Grace will hold you and protect you and Grace will keep you safe."
"Those words often bring tears to my eyes. And there’s ‘Love is my Decision.’ And ‘Dance Down the Road.’ It’s all about forgiveness and love and dancing down the road. Forgiveness has let me live my life with less stress and anger. We suffer more from unforgiveness than the one we’re angry at. Forgiveness is very freeing.”
Jean is silent for a few moments. “The fact is – we are all born in original blessing instead of original sin. It brings such peace to know you are unconditionally loved by God – by Spirit. Nothing is more freeing in our lives than knowing this. It leads us to forgive ourselves and not to live in guilt and fear.”
A deep sigh. “My faith as a child did not bring me peace. It brought me fear and guilt. I feel that, over a period of 15 years, I was being led to Unity without realizing it. I didn’t know Unity existed until Spirit led me to it.”
Since becoming a chaplain, Jean looks at the prayer process as a release. “It also ties into confidentiality because the prayer content is never discussed with anyone. It’s always just released to God. This can be a challenge sometimes when you’ve heard something troubling. We take some extra time to release it and let it go. It’s not ours to do and we have to let it go. And, yes, that can be a challenge.”
She ends with an invitation. “The Prayer Chaplain Ministry would love to welcome some new energy. It’s a great opportunity for friendship and connection.”
Unity of Madison's Prayer Chaplain Ministry welcomes all to consider joining us in our sacred service to the community. Each January we hold an open orientation sesson before we begin our 26-hour training program (January - March). Read more about us HERE