Finding Meaning in Lifting Up One Another

Written by Katherine Higgins

Katherine Higgins smiling at camera

It is impossible to write about the nature and quality of our connections with one another in ACPE without acknowledging the significant strain in our civic life, made plain last week on Epiphany, when a violent mob stormed the Capitol while both houses of congress were receiving the electoral college votes. Though the clinical rhombus doesn’t explicitly consider the sociopolitical context of learning, many of us have extended Karl Barth’s insistence that preaching is properly done with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. That is to say, we cannot find meaning or proclaim the promises of God apart from the very real circumstances of our life in society.

Some among us are shocked by the events at the Capitol. Indeed, the images we’re seeing out of Washington are new and unprecedented. Never before has a confederate flag flown in the US Capitol. Anti-Semitic and Nazi propaganda have not had such a prominent stage in the US before.

For others of us there was nothing surprising about Wednesday’s events. They were obvious and predictable outcome of years – centuries – of white supremacy and the intentional stoking of fires of discontent by the president and others through outright lies. Plans were made and advertised openly, and questions about law enforcement failures loom large.

And for some of us, perhaps, it is altogether shocking and entirely unsurprising. And this is the Epiphany hope:  that the truth about who we have always been has been made plain in new and life-changing ways.

The dawn of the new year has also made me reflective. Events of the past year, including the COVID pandemic, the rise of movements for racial justice, the deep questioning of fundamental democratic processes, have also revealed the creativity and courage of my colleagues in spiritual care and education – namely, YOU. In the face of significant personal risk and massive uncertainty, you all have continued to find ways to care for the suffering in profound ways. I give thanks for your ministries and for your witness.

As you may know, ACPE has several awards and recognitions that are awarded each year. Perhaps you know someone who has made significant contributions to our life together. Please consider nominating colleagues for the following awards –

  • Distinguished Service Award - to members who demonstrated exemplary service and outstanding contributions to the association, students and patients, and the fields of spiritual care, education, and psychotherapy.
  • Helen Flanders Dunbar Award - honors ACPE members who contributed research and academic vitality or demonstrated innovative practice in the field of spiritual care, education, and psychotherapy.
  • Inspiration Award - recognizes mid-career professionals who have accomplished a career milestone, and/or who have demonstrated significant leadership qualities in service to ACPE
  • Emerging Leader Award - recognizes early-career professionals who have already begun to exhibit significant leadership qualities in service to ACPE.
  • Educator/Psychotherapist Emeritus/a Designation - honors individuals who have made significant contributions to students, and the CPE movement, or the field of spiritually integrated psychotherapy over a period of years.

More information about these awards, and instructions for making a nomination can be found here:

Friends, the world desperately needs the vision of healing and the skills for connection that we have to offer. We are uniquely positioned to aid in the work of deep introspection and reaching out across difference. Let’s encourage one another in this work, that we may build our stamina for the long road ahead.

Katherine Higgins is the Director of Communities of Practice. She may be contacted at