Friday, July 04, 2008

Re-Calibrating

It has come to my attention . . .

that I need to find my way back? toward?

. . . something that has nothing whatever to do with ministry.

I love the work I'm doing. But it can be all-consuming. It doesn't just take me away from family, friends, home. It's everything I read, everyone I talk to, everywhere I go.

I knew I was in trouble when a neighborhood acquaintance, upon finding out that I am in seminary and spending the summer doing CPE, asked me, while weeding her garden as a break from caring for her ill husband, why there is suffering in the world. I was just trying to take a walk. And then it turned out that that was only the first of five conversations like that over a period when I was actually not at the hospital for all of 48 hours straight and was trying not to think about suffering, pain, loss, heaven, hell, sin, the universe, suffering, the gender of God, the purposes of God, the presence or absence of God, the grace of God, or suffering.

I'm not actually complaining. I'm just registering the need to recalibrate.

And so tonight we're going to fireworks, and tomorrow we might go for a little hike.

And the camera that has lain basically dormant for nearly a year is going back into my pocket.

And if anyone else wants to comment on how they manage all this, I'm listening.





10 comments:

Jan said...

(((GG))) No suggestions, just wishing you peace amidst everything. Hope the fireworks were good.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I too have no suggestions. Just an observation from my own corner of the expanding universe. The best way I can put it is:

Sometimes you can play three dimensional chess, other times you can whizz to a win in 12 dimensional chess and other times the best you can do is set up the board.

Stratoz said...

I like that chess analogy, stepping back is good. When I was on retreat I had a strong sense of it not being time to become a spiritual director. I hope you get to that hike.

Joan Calvin said...

My prayers are with you. I found CPE to be so draining and then to have people who need someone to listen to them as they are in places of pain when I needed quiet was really difficult. All the hope I can give is that CPE was the most difficult part of ministry I've encountered yet. I don't know how chaplains do it full time.

Michelle said...

I won't torment you with pictures of my retreat on the Atlantic shores!

Some years back my spiritual director sent me out to take a 30 minute walk every night. I can still hear her firm instruction in my ears: and don't THINK!

It has helped to have that "off-duty" time when I feel as if it's all hounding me wherever I go. I often wear earphones, even with not music playing. My neighbors won't then stop me to talk, thinking I'm listening.

And prayers never hurt...mine for you!!

Kathryn J said...

I'm glad you got to have your hike. School is keeping me incredibly busy but it is not emotionally draining. I am thinking of you.

Please take the time to find balance. I like Michele's direction to walk and not think - it probably sounds easier than it is but it sounds wonderful.

emmapeelDallas said...

I have a friend who happens to be a cardiologist...when he travels and people ask what he does, he says he's a plumber...it avoids some of the problems...

Katherine E. said...

Heart hug to you, GG. Hope the fireworks and hike were rejuvenating.

I remember summer CPE as the most exhausting and exhilarating time of my lfe. It was just so intense that I came away every day barely able to move. But I learned so much and felt God's presence so intensely in the midst of all that suffering that I also came away strangely energized. Weird paradoxical experience.

mompriest said...

how to manage it? After nearly nine years of ordained ministry i can only say...just as you are...it's all consuming in many wonderful ways but still all consuming...so sometimes you just have to put it all down and walk away...go for a hike or the fireworks or hide behind a camera....and you have to do this very intentionally several times a year for a few weeks...and for a little while every day....

Paul said...

I have plenty of time for boating, fishing, hiking, photography, and so on. I just cut out work and religion. I hope that helps.