Thursday, June 28, 2012

So that paper journal thing

I did start a paper journal, just not the one I thought I'd be starting. This one is for CPE where I journal about my experience and then I make a copy and share these thoughts with my CPE Supervisor. My CPE program is great. For this I am immensely thankful especially in light of a trying spiritual year. My experience isn't the horror story experience of IPRs gone amuck, or of Supervisors trying to tear you down and leave you there. It's the experience of program run by a Supervisor who wants to see us succeed, who wants us to  acknowledge our gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, what causes anxiety and why. And to use all this knowledge for being better Chaplains, better Pastors. As a group we know where we're headed and the basic directions to get there, but the route is not rigid, it's about the journey. What an amazing group of Interns I'm with this Summer. We couldn't be more different from one another, yet we have empathy and respect for one another. We've managed thus far to offer up what we see and then give the other the space to decide if it's "their" stuff or "my" stuff.

I'm in a hospital that sees Chaplaincy as part of holistic healing, that spiritual care helps people heal physically and emotionally. When a trauma or code occurs we're part of the response team; I chart within the patient's medical record. I didn't know what exactly I would gain from CPE, I had some simple goals. Be comfortable in a hospital. Be comfortable interacting with doctors and nurses as a patient advocate. Become more comfortable with conversations about sickness, death, healing, and grief. People said CPE changes you, makes you a better pastor, and I agree though I didn't really believe it until I started to experience it for myself.

You know how sometimes you know something but you don't truly know it until you see it? I know how important family is and how important a faith community is, but to see the difference in the patients who have this type of support and those that don't is amazing. Foster your relationships, take time to pray, get outside to remember life is all around and to keep yourself healthy. At the end of the day, one of the first things I look forward to is feeling the wind on my face, and even more, my first deep breath of fresh air.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Almost done

I have one last paper to write and my semester is officially complete. I got my theology final back, it was blue book style, memorize all I could and hope for two out of four questions I could answer plus seven definitions out of the twenty I prepped for. I left the exam knowing I'd done well on the definitions but unsure of my essays. Though it was interesting supporting my claim that Schleiemacher could talk and walk the Anglican "middle way." Writing about Aquinas and Calvin's views on sin not so interesting. So, when I got my exam back and saw my grade I was really pleased, and after re-reading my essays thought not too bad. I couldn't remember much of anything I had written once I turned had handed it in.

I'm definitely ready to say good-bye and move onto hellos. My hope is to rest and spiritually renew during May, so that I can survive June-August CPE. CPE has me quite terrified; my hope is to go in open to the experience, and what it has to offer, and come out knowing more about myself and having new skills to take into my minstry. Then one day after CPE ends we're either visiting my wife's parents or heading for our new seminary. Oh yeah, I also have an awesome field parish placement! The rector is super kind and vibrant and open to letting me explore and try stuff that's near and dear to me, as well as offer guidance and suggestions. I'm super excited.

I'm looking forward to some time with a paper journal and some Spiritual Direction, some distance to process everything that's gone on. I managed to survive this year with my dignity and integrity intact, though at the very, very end, I really doubted myself, my approach to the events, and I'm deeply grateful for the words that my bishop shared with me. Those words released the seeds of doubt "they" tried to plant within me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Plans for the Future

I realized based on my friend's comment that I forgot to include my plans :) I'll start a new seminary in the Fall and I'm very excited for the change. I don't know if that'll mean seminary will take alittle longer, until the end of my first year at my new seminary; then I can petition to have my credits transferred. But, I'm okay if it takes abit longer to finish.

So my focus for now is to complete this semester, then in May get all the planning done that I can, because once CPE starts I won't have much time to take care of things. My wife has started the process to get her certifications and then will start job hunting. As soon as we know where we'll be living then we start looking at schools. Mostly at this point there's more unknowns then known. But as it gets closer to August I'll know most of the things I'll need to know about making the transition from here to the NE.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Transparency and Authenticity

I haven't posted in a very long while. So here's a go at returning...

I told "my seminary" and my fellow seminarians last week that I won't be returning next Fall.

Things here didn't work out; I had hoped that perhaps they would. But I eventually had to let go of that hope and make concrete plans for the sake of my family and my own future.

The journey of this year has taught me alot about myself and institutions. I've learned to listen for what isn't said as closely as to what is spoken; both hold volumes of meaning. I've learned to get it in writing :) I've learned that when a community can't speak truths it poisons all other interactions. I've re-learned being gay in the South requires alot of patience on my part. I've learned in the midst of struggles and pain there is still deep love. I've learned to love a community of people who are very different from me with whom I spend more time with then my family. I've re-learned to be the sound of the voice of the other, and I am thankful for that. I'm learning a theological vocabulary, and finding my theological context. There's more I've learned but, I think will find it's way out over time and distance. My wife learned she could let go of what was once home and to discover home had become somewhere else. They're won't be any I wonder what if around leaving here, for which I am thankful.

It took alot of time to work through the guilt of moving my kiddos again. It took alot of time to let go of the anger and frustration of broken and avoided promises. But now when people say I hear you're leaving, I smile and say yeah, I'm excited about the change.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's been a long while

Here's alot that's happened since my arrival at seminary, and my first semester is very nearly completed. I've had some positive experiences, but there's been one looming negative experience that has yet to resolve itself; so until then, I'll leave the "big bad" unspoken.

I've met some wonderful people. I've learned alot, but not nearly as much as I had hoped for; I'm hoping next semester will be different. I've realized that at least for my first year of seminary, I'm very well-formed. I'm looking forward to CPE in the summer where I'll be stretched and stretched since I'll be at a Level I trauma hospital. I'm looking forward to the elective I signed up for because I think I finally get the academic challenge I had hoped for.

I hope y'all had a blessed Thanksgiving, and that Advent brings light and hope to you.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In town and settling in

We had a really nice visit with my wife's family. It was really hard to leave; even our dogs thought that we were home. It was hard to leave the love and safety of my in-laws home.

We've been at our new home a week now, and are as unpacked as we're going to get for now. All that's left are a few boxes of books and the games need to be put away. A friend of ours from New England asked if the house felt like our last home. It doesn't, at least not yet. It's this cross between our first home in New England and our 2nd hell house. Maybe because the house needs alot of love and it took about 12 hours of cleaning the first two days here for us to all feel comfortable. Our pictures have covered most of the ugh spots on the walls, but the whole house needs a good painting. However, the neighborhood is really quiet, and I've come to love hearing the nighttime freight train go by just before the kiddos bedtime; they seem to enjoy it too.

I think of us all my wife is the happiest to be back. I'm still not convinced all shall be well. I applied at two places yesterday, but will start the job search in earnest in the evenings the week my orientation begins. Maybe I'll feel more hopeful after the Financial Aid orientation session.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Leaving Soon

I and my family leave very soon for seminary. I had thought the "hard part" was the long discernment process. I had thought this part would be easier...hmmm, lessons all around us.

My vision of seminary did not include 25-30 hours of part-time work, and a work study. And there's still a chance this won't be my future, that the vision of 2 work studies or 15 hours PT work and 1 work study will be my future.

I've grappled with my anger and my guilt; I've reminded myself that no matter which future comes to pass it's how I walk it that matters, how I let it shape me that matters. I keep reminding myself to believe that it's all going to be okay. Give miracles a chance to happen.

I keep praying that my wife is able to get a job by August - mid-August, and that it has health benefits and meets or exceeds our "magic" budget needs number.

I'm glad I've been able to pray; I'd started shutting down; as always, I'm ever grateful for the Psalms those laments that voice hopelessness and end with light cracking through.

11 days...and new chapters begin.