Liminal time, again

Just after Easter, good news – an ordination date!

In just two months I am to be ordained to the priesthood. Six and a half years into the process and the end is in sight. I am a bit disoriented at the idea of the end of this process and the beginning of… something else… coming so soon. I have also about 4 weeks left in my CPE unit. Almost 40 weeks of CPE is almost over. I’m not sure what’s next. I know I’m staying in the city, but I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. Perhaps some hybrid of parish ministry and chaplaincy. I’m not ready to walk away from either one.

I am in the midst of some discernment that I did not expect to be in at this point. I have a deep love of parish ministry, and yet… and yet the love of chaplaincy tugs at me relentlessly. I cannot imagine my life (for right now, at least) without doing some amount of hospital chaplaincy. I have come to love my work among the spiritual but not religious, among those who haven’t spoken with a clergy member in decades, among those who are suffering and dying and forgotten. I certainly cannot imagine my life without afternoons in the ER, moving calmly among the chaos, talking quietly to the frightened, chatting up the injured tourist, cheering up the waiting child, and, most importantly, being the often silent but deeply compassionate companion of the families of the dead.

Chaplaincy is funny – not funny-humorous (although it has those moments) but funny-strange. It took so long to get used to all the suffering and death, and yet eventually I began to feel that much more alive because of the work I do and the things I see. It is still not easy, but for the most part it is bearable. The struggle continues, the struggle to walk that fine line between compartmentalizing and over-engaging, between caring too much and not enough. I don’t know that that issue ever goes away.

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~ by Sophia on April 20, 2010.

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