Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Making Old Things New

I went over to the hospital today, the hospital where I will begin a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency in a matter of days. I had to get a test to confirm my immunizations. I don't like to think that I have only been to the UCDavis Medical Centre twice now, and I have already had to spill blood. I sincerely hope that this de-sanguination doesn't move from the literal to the figurative too soon.

To be honest, I can hardly believe that I am doing a yearlong CPE residency. During my whole seminary program I have been discerning between two vocations: a parish ministry or an academic ministry. I never, ever, thought that I would do any more chaplaincy. This was not the plan. But here I am, waiting on the unplanned residency. I trust that God is in this, because I am deeply relying on him, and will continue to deeply rely on him. If this was not my plan, let us hope it is God's.

It didn't help that I did not have a great experience in my summer of CPE. A lot of blood was spilled in those few weeks, a lot of it mine. I certainly learned a lot, about myself and how I cope with stress and injury, and about how to minister to people in those situations. But as many of you know, that kind of learning is very, very, hard. In some sense it was especially hard for me, because to be present with someone who is coping with a stressful injury forces me to be present to how I have coped and continue to cope with my own injury. Even though I have recovered healthily from my own trauma twelve years ago, being alongside someone who knows now what I knew then compels me to remember just how difficult these adjustments are in a deeply personal way, making my own old wounds painfully present.

I feel like I am about to begin training for a marathon, or that I am on the ground but about to start preparing for a spacewalk. There is a lot of hard work ahead of me. The only difference is that the goal is not one that will bring any glory to me, like crossing a finish line, or a fantastic journey into weightlessness: the goal is the care of suffering people. May God's glory be revealed to me through them, may God's glory be revealed to them through me.

Pray that for all of the emptying, I might also be filled, that my weakness becomes my strength, and that through this work I grow into the life of the Holy Trinity; pray for those to whom I minister, that their weakness turns to strength, and that God enters their life through my ministrations.

Lord in your mercy . . .

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Karen said...

This entry brings tears to my eyes. Having to re-live the emotions of the first months after your accident seems excruciating. I remember that time both with thankfulness and sorrow.

I am thankful that you did not die and that we experienced a time of growth in our relationship that I would never give up. You were only my boyfriend then, but you were already impressing me and supporting me. The strength and patience with which you faced (and still do face) each new day and each new challenge still inspires me.

I also remember the sorrow that each of us faced both together and separately - hours of crying, mourning and for me anger. Sometimes I can't believe that you are my husband, how could I be worthy or lucky enough to be married to someone so thoughtful, inspirational and strong.

I'm always amazed at how you turn your disability into something that profoundly influences people's lives. I thank God for you. You have changed me forever and for that I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Wow. I am beginning my unit of CPE on Monday -- one day a week for nine months, at the big hospital an hour from where I live. I went there today, in fact, and was exsanguinated to confirm my immunizations, too.

I am frankly terrified of the work that lies ahead. Impermanence and fragility scare me; suffering and illness scare me; the prospect of discovering myself incapable of ministering to those in need scares me. And yet I feel certain that this is God's work and that it is work I need to learn how to do -- that God will guide me through it even though I can't imagine how. (He does that, I find.)

Your post is especially moving to me, though -- and Karen's comment brought tears to my eyes -- because on top of all the reasons why CPE is terrifying to every seminarian, it clearly resonates in other more personal ways for you, and I'm humbled by that. I know I don't know you well (arguably I barely know you at all) but should you ever choose to blog about your injury I would be honored to bear whatever witness I can to your journey.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 7:57:00 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Okay me too... tears (thanks Karen)
Fall or September seems to bring so many new starts, and fresh beginnings.
I'm not sure about the "everything happens for a reason" thing, but I do know that God is present in it all. Sometimes I find myself searching desperately for any sign of him and other days he gives me a swift kick in the pants!
I so often want to sweep that neediness (for God) under that carpet. When I let it be, it's quite freeing to just put all my trust in God and say "Here we go!"
Good luck or should I say Good faith!
Thinking about you guys lots, miss you! (fighting tears)
P.S. Sam is 4 now and had a great first couple of days at school -Little Lambs Christian Pre School (mornings) and Jr. K at a Montessori program (afternoons)
He's having a bit of a hard time with missing his nap... but were working on it!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 8:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

oh yeah...

hear our prayer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 8:46:00 PM  

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