Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anxious Anticipation

Tomorrow I start in the extended Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Harris Methodist Hospital.  My classroom work will be at Harris Methodist Downtown and my practical will be at Harris Methodist Southwest.  One thing we were told to do before starting the program was to try to identify those things that we are anxious about.  Here is my list:

  • I'll get lost (hospitals are big and seem a lot like mazes)
  • I won't know what to say
  • I'll feel really awkward and won't know what to do
  • I'll say the wrong thing
  • I won't be able to pray out loud without stumbling all over myself
  • I'll be too empathetic and will get too emotional
  • I'll get sick and won't be able to get in all of the required hours
  • I'm not sure how I'll handle being with someone when they die - that is new for me
  • I won't be able to remember conversations well enough to write a verbatum
  • I'll be intimidated by the doctors and I'll have trouble asserting my authority

Well - that's all I can think of for now.  That is certainly enough!  Some of these are probably things that everyone worries about and once they get into the program they become non issues.  But others may not be so easy to dismiss.  Time will tell how this turns out.  I am fortunate in that the supervisor for the classroom work used to be my spiritual director.

I am anxious, but I am also anticipating that this will be a valuable growth experience for me.  Who knows, I may find that this type of work is something that will call to me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Sad Leaving and a Happy Landing

Last year in June I had to leave the Unitarian Universalist congregation that was my church home for over 7 years.  The minister of the church resigned because of budgetary issues and since I was a ministerial candidate, the head of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee told me I had to leave as well.  He said it was because there couldn’t be any kind of perception that I had been antagonistic or that I was waiting in the wings to take over for the minister after he left – even though I hadn’t been doing any of those things.  In fact, I was one of the biggest allies for the minister.

So I had to just disappear.  I am still very sad about that.  I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.  I wasn’t able to give a goodbye sermon or even just publicly say goodbye.  There was no goodbye reception, even though the congregation gave a big goodbye reception for the minister.  It’s almost like I had never been there even though I gave my heart and soul to that place for seven years.  I just had to disappear – there hasn’t been any closure.

I have very mixed emotions about my leaving.  I loved the people there and I miss them.  I suppose it is petty and selfish (I am human after all) but I must confess that I am upset that there wasn’t any kind of goodbye party or reception for me.  I did so much for that church and there wasn't even a public acknowledgment of all that I had done - not even for what I had done during my year of supervised ministry.  It makes me feel like all of my efforts were unappreciated, even though I know that is not true.  It’s just a very sad thing and I am still grieving the loss.

But God has a funny way of working.  That incident forced me to really think about where I want to be.  I had been thinking about leaving Unitarian Universalism and exploring the United Church of Christ.   My having to leave the UU church gave me the push I needed to explore other options.  I am now involved with a wonderful United Church of Christ congregation and I have found a home with that denomination.  This was a significant change since I had been a life-long Unitarian Universalist.  Now I am well along the path to ordination in the United Church of Christ tradition.  I have learned to embrace Christianity – I have been baptized – and I know that I am now where I was meant to be.

As the old saying goes – when one door closes another opens up. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Liminality - that space between what was and what will be...what came before and what comes next.  It can be a very uncomfortable space or it can be a time for grounding, recharging, dreaming and discerning.  I am in such a state right now - between the near end of one career and the beginning of another.  What will my future ministry be?  This is a period of discernment and I ask God to help me keep an open mind to the options and possibilities.

Last night in our Sacred Conversations group we talked about some songs that spoke of the in-between time and of being on the edge of change.  One metaphor used was that of the time between night and day - light and dark - and standing right on the edge.  I feel like I'm nearing that edge but I'm not quite there yet.  The vision is not clear - clouds are in the way.  Sometimes the clouds cover my entire vision of the future and I feel like I'm groping in the dark.  Then the clouds move around and I can make out bits and pieces of the future.  Other times, the clouds are almost gone and I catch a glimpse of what I can become.  Then the vision clouds up again.  The clouds keep moving around revealing possibilities and then covering them up only to reveal other possibilities.

Faith is believing that I will make it through the liminal times and that I will be able to discern what I am meant to do - what God wants me to do.  No need to panic.  I can rest in this space with a sense of wonder and anticipation.

Dear God - I ask that you walk with me during this liminal time.  Help me open my mind and heart to all of the possibilities that you set before me.  Grant me the wisdom to discern the path that I am meant to take.  Amen.