Friday, June 30, 2006

Favorite Comment of the Day

A woman died today. Too young, at 41. Two children at home. A kind husband.

I was paged around 1:00. I drove out immediately. We cried together. We told stories. We were thankful that she was done suffering.

The funeral home called...they suggested her husband consider clothes for her to wear in the casket. He looked helplessly at the three sisters gathered, at the two nieces, at the three Hospice personnel who were all women.

"Ladies," this young farmer said haltingly, "I think this is your arena. Everytime I bought her clothes, she'd take them back."

The women crowded around the closet, pulling out pink sweaters, and purple dresses, and green tops. Finally, one of my colleagues said, "Jim, what did you like to see her in?"

Jim paused, and said, in an awww-shucks kind of way,"Well, ladies, I'm a guy. I liked to see her in nothing!"

It was the first time we'd laughed deeply and from our bellies all afternoon.


You know how sometimes you just put things off...oh, things like writing sermons...for instance...and you do whatever you can to put off the inevitable Sunday morning pulpit-pounding? So, you sort of do anything else you spreading 36 square feet of mulch in your front gardens? Or reorganizing your card-making supplies? Or taking your car to Ziebart to finally take care of that egg-souffle spilling incident? Or knitting several rows in an afghan? Or alphabetizing your sanitary napkin supply, I mean Stayfree shouldn't be by Kotex if there are Lightdays...(okay maybe that last one was a tiny exagerration...)?

No? You don't know how things get put off like that? Oh. Okay.

Seriously, though...thank you all for your on and off-line help with this first sermon. Perhaps I'll post it when it's done being preached (don't you think the past tense of "preach" should be "praught?" Sort of like "teach" is "taught?" My English major slows me down in regular life pursuits sometimes...I ponder these kinds of things...)

This morning I was part of an interview for CPE alums from my program, as the bigwigs in ACPE look at recertifying LH's program (for those non-chaplains, I just said that chaplains have training programs and they, as in the God posse types from the professional organization who have all the power, pay attention to whether we learn or not). CPE is such a powerful experience and LH has an amazing program with both extended-unit students (those who spread their education out over six months part-time), and intensive-students (more like twelve weeks full-time) and residents (of which I was last year). It felt like homecoming...and I got utterly homesick for my boot-camp days of CPE where our motto was, "I've been through CPE, I know my shit and I keep see yours." I told R. later that it was sort of like what those who have served in war together and reunite feel like...we pause and recount the old stories..."Remember that night that the woman in 304-1 got so mad at you that she bit you?" "Remember that trauma when the woman pulled through after 12 hours of surgery, you know, that night you had the stomach flu and were still on-call?" "Remember the accusatory man who yelled out to the staff in his dementia that 'The Chaplain Pulled Out My Catheter!!! ?" "Remember the day you got to tell the patient that the heart was available for his heart transplant?" "Remember that day I taught you how to cuss?" "Remember all the hot tamales we ate?" It was a good day for memories.

And now, I'm off to alphabetize my spice rack, and reorganize my underwear drawer, and count my cat's whiskers, and inventory my supply of canned soup, and...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Today it occurred to me, "Holy Mary Mother of God, I start preaching this Sunday and from now until eternity (or until the church finds a permanent pastor...which seems like a LOOONNNGGGG way off when you're planning sermons) I have to be wise and thought-provoking and erudite on a regular basis. And, friends, I am so not these things.

Examples of aforementioned thoughts...I look forward to the Saturday when I get my hair highlighted, because I get to read trashy magazines with headlines with exclamation points!!! (i.e. Brad and Angelina pluck each other's eyebrows for fun! Britany is adding an extra "t" to her name!!! Paris Hilton caught taking a Beano before celebrity chili supper!!). Another example of my gauche ways...I can't stop giggling inwardly when people mispronounce words (a client told me the other day that her mother felt much better after having a "vowel movement." I wanted to say, "Yeah, whenever I move that 'I before E' I feel better too...). How, oh how, can I be given the responsibility of interpreting scripture?!?

Shit. (See, another example of my unworthiness!) Just shit. Anyone have any brilliant ideas about Psalm 130? 'Cause I'm a little dry here...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Compulsives in Love

This week R. and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary.

Like most happily wedded folk, we decided to celebrate with a dinner out, sans children.

Fort Wayne has a veritable feast of restaurants in the area. We received some anniversary money from parental units to belly up to the bar. All week, as we did last year, we offered opinions on various fine eateries in the area that we have never been to. Conversations went like this, "Ooohh...I heard that Chops has the best bread in town, maybe we should go there..." and "You know, we've never been to Bleu Tomato..." and "Indian food sounds yummy, I've been craving curry..." Every year we have this conversation. And every year, we shrug our shoulders on the designated celebratory day and say, "It's up to you..." and then we stare at each other...and then one or the other of us (usually me being the more assertive one in this duo) says, "Oh, let's just got somewhere familiar, I already know what to order there...and we know it will be good." And the other one of us says, "Okay with me!" Ah, compulsives in love...where we always know what to expect and we like it that way, dammit.

Happy anniversary, my sweet R. I love that I know exactly what to expect in this, our cherished life together. May we have many more years of predictable delight together.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Said Yes

Recently I received a phone call. The voice on my answering machine was the district executive of a district near me. The voice said, "There is a church that would like to call you as their pastor. Are you interested?" I laughed. I laughed loud and long and said to my husband, "Do they know who I am?" Because they are a tiny church, a tiny church which my ex-husband pastored when we divorced.

Did you hear that? The church my ex-husband pastored wanted me to consider pastoring there.

And one really must ask, "What the f@#$?"

And again, I laughed. And said, "Yeah, I'm not even going to bother returning that call." And I laughed again, in sort of a fake way, with an added "Ha!" punctuating the end for emphasis.

And that night I didn't sleep very well. 'Cause I kept thinking about that phone message. And the night after that I slept even worse. And I couldn't stop thinking about that little church, sort of like an ear-worm, one of those songs that you just can't stop singing ("It's a Small World," or "Louie, Louie" or "YMCA" or "The Lady in Red" [how about as a blogging comment y'all send your worst earwormed songs?]).

And the next day I called the D.E. and waved my little white flag of surrender and said, "I'm a teeny bit interested, but only as an interim, and only as pulpit supply, and only for a little while. And only as a second position, because I wouldn't be leaving my job as a hospice chaplain." And he smiled knowingly and said something pastoral which I can't remember now. And I left thinking, "What the f@#@ am I doing?" (notice how I've become more pastoral and don't cuss nearly as much but instead sort-of cuss?)

And the next night I called my very kind and good ex-husband in a big city in the Northwest to see how he felt about the whole thing...and he said, "No, I don't think it's too might be good..." And I got off the phone and wept, because God really got me with this one...quasi-reconcillation with my ex-husband and a call from the denomination which I felt abandoned me.
This grace stuff breaks me open and leaves me gasping everytime.

And the next week I sat in negotiations for an interim position with the D.E. and the search committee and I said, "Why do you want me, when I left your pastor? Why do you want me when I divorced a good man who you loved?" And a voice spoke up and said, "You are a good person, and K. was a good person, and we figure, it's not really our business to judge." And I saw other heads nod in agreement.

And in that instant, my heart and my voice said, "Yes, yes, yes."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Live From San Angelo...

...It's the Contemplative Chaplain, our roving reporter in the field.

Thanks to Vayden, the wonder-brother-in-law (who I'm convinced is hiding his superpower abilites from us mere mortals, abilities which include taming feral cats with his bare hands and prescribing pain medicine for hospice patients faster than a speeding bullet) and his trusty laptop, I have internet access in which to inform my sweet readers that, well, I may not be posting as much this week.

I am thankful, thankful for the exquisite hospitality of my sister-in-law who cooks mouth-watering food, and tolerates accomodating four houseguests for a week. I am thankful, thankful for my sweet girlies who tolerated a two day car trip with nary a quarrel. I am thankful, thankful for finally being off the @#$% Prednisone which made my mind a bad neighborhood I couldn't go in alone. And I am thankful, thankful for space from work to simply be.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Bad, Sick and Wrong

Anna Nicole Smith = Pregnant.
Contemplative Chaplain = Not So Much.

Patience...hard to come by.

But...poison ivy? Fading. So, for this and many other reasons life is still sweet. I simply need to keep breathing. And avoid TrimSpa ads. I think we'll all be happier that way.