I wonder if, when those who know me hear that I am considering this chaplain business, they think that I’ve gone off the deep end. I suspect that some do.
In fact, a good portion of a lot of days, I wonder if I haven’t gone off the deep end myself.
A few weeks before beginning my Junior year of college I sat across from my Mom at our kitchen table daydreaming about the ‘first days of school’ that I would see in future years as a special education teacher. That, after all, was the degree I was pursuing. As I envisioned that profession, and those first days of school, I literally panicked. I looked up at my Mom and with an edge in my voice I said, “Mom, I don’t think I want to be a teacher!” I can’t remember exactly how she replied, but I don’t remember her being all that suprised.
So this new direction comes, and part of me wonders if I am pursuing it simply to have a direction. Because… from that summer day of uncertainty on, I had no ‘plan,’ for my future. All I knew at that point was that I was a good portion of the way through a degree that I wasn’t sure I wanted to use. Things never really got a whole lot clearer.
I worry that I will get partway through my M. Div. and have the same type of revelation, “I don’t think I want to do this!”
Except…. that more than I ever could with the idea of teaching, I can close my eyes and see myself doing the work of a hospice chaplain and the feeling that comes over me when I do so is contentment.
Except…. that of all the experiences that I’ve had in this last year, the privelege of standing by on ‘the watch’ as a friend or family member prepared to move on to eternity–those experiences have been the most profound, holy moments that I have ever experienced.
And… the reality is that this path may be only part of the larger picture of my journey. Maybe I am about to find out that I specialize in *thinking* that I know what I want to be when I grow up only to jump off the train at the last second. Maybe I will wash out of seminary or find out that this isn’t really what I want to do.
That is a scary thing because this choice effects not just me, but my entire family. We have to work through the financial crunch that will likely come as a result of this choice. I don’t want to climb up onto the ladder of the high-dive, only to decide half-way through the run off that I don’t want to take the plunge. The cost will be too high for that. A good deal of pressure is riding on my raising off that flex-board and letting myself fall into the water below.
But what I know for now is that I feel led to face this direction. And I use that word not knowing exactly what it means, but feeling convicted that it is at work in this case. I know that I need to see where this path leads. I know now more than I ever have that the ‘destination’ I have in mind may not be the one I reach when I set out on a given path, but I have to set out anyway.
And that’s ok. I will face this direction as part of my journey. Perhaps it is a practice of faith–of learning to listen to the voice of God.
I will face the direction and see what happens, because to be true to what beats within me, I have to. To be true to the leading of the Spirit of God as I understand it in this moment (and it is a rudimentary understanding at best), I must.
And I guess I’ll see what happens.