Of all the phrases or concepts that we heard at the chaplaincy research conference last week, the one which most resonated was chaplains as holy listeners, listening to the lament and being an embodiment of the divine (shared by John Lantos). It seems very apt for clergy too, particularly in this season of lent where people may be reflecting on their life in a different way to usual. I find I listen to a lot of lament and feel really privileged to do so. Often it is the lament that is hardest for us to share because it is what lies deepest within us once we get past the superficial complaints about the weather or the endless phone calls trying to sell us something… I am always encouraged by the amount of lament in the Psalms in particular as it shows how God doesn’t mind listening to our rants but there can be a pressure not to share them with others – who wants to be called a whinger or negative? But if we don’t express our lament then it can be hard to fully embrace our joy too. As we are moving towards the week in the Christian season where lament is so apparent I am remembering that God calls me to be a holy listener and to seek to be (a very imperfect) embodiment of the divine who is present to listen to the lament.