Friday, September 26, 2014

The Deepest Place

I’ve found it.  That place.  You know, that place Frederick Buechner calls “the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”  My place.  It’s been there all along, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find it.

A few weeks ago I started my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.  CPE is a combination of classroom learning and discussion and hands-on experience as a Chaplain Intern in a hospital setting.  On one of my early regular shifts, I knew.  I only had a couple of hours to work, so I went to one of my assigned floors to introduce myself and see a couple of patients.  Mine are the baby floors.  Labor and Delivery, Ante-Partum, and Couplet Care, where the mommies and babies go before they leave the hospital.  Of course, when I’m On Call, I am all over the hospital.  This day, though, with as little time as I had, I was on my own floors.

That night, I found myself praying for a baby, born too soon, and her mourning parents.  I had hardly left the room when I was paged by the On Call Chaplain to provide a viewing of someone who had passed away for a loved one.  One would think a night like that would send a newcomer reeling, but instead I found myself rejuvenated, knowing I had been given the chance to be with someone in their deepest hour of need.

Since that night, I’ve rejoiced with birth parents and adoptive parents, prayed with adult children who have lost their parents, and sat with people recovering from surgery, others preparing for surgery, and yet others who would be out of the emergency room before the night was through.

No matter what kind of day or night I have at the hospital, I know that I will bring peace to at least one person.  I give something, yet I take away so much more.

The day I walked down the hall in the hospital, holding on to my bright pink folder, and realized that I had come to the crux of my spirituality, the trajectory of my life changed.  The trajectory of my ministry became clear.  The clarity of this vision brings a change to the mission of St. Brigid in the Desert.

I will be spending some time in prayer as I discern where St. Brigid will be heading.  Certainly, I will continue to offer Spiritual Direction and Life Celebration services.  How I will approach this from the standpoint of the church will reveal itself in time.

I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote from my experiences in chaplaincy so far.  It is as yet untitled.

I’ve seen the pallid

Face of death

Eyes mere shadowed

Memories of dreams;

Once imagined thought

Of what might have been

I’ve heard the screams

Of midlife child

Unprepared for loss

Of reconciliation, door

Closed for half a life

Will never open now

I’ve held the hand

Of childless mother

Once-filled womb now empty,

And arms aching to hold, and

Tears shed for the

Life that might have been

I, who lend my ear, my hand

My heart, pray

Spirit brings peace

When even I cannot

Feel Her Presence

In other rooms, beyond

Newborns cry

And mothers shed

Tears of joy and fear

For the fragile life

Placed in their hands

New Hope

In the midst of sorrow

© 18 September 2014

Blessings to all of you as we enter into a new season.

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