Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Path...

I just am figuring out about this chaplain thing, and maybe I've been called to do that, and it sort of doesn't seem real. But when I think back on the steps, it's eerie: like, I heard the "Fresh Air" interview with Dr Schwab the trauma surgeon, I was riveted and felt that I needed to leave my last job at a small, suburban women's college to pursue something more meaningful. I heard Al Gore and his "Inconvenient Truth", I read "Mountains beyond Mountains" in my book club, and I became radicalized.

I got this job, and at first lamented it, but have since realized that it affords me the opportunity and some time to take a class, if I set it up right, without taking too much time away from the fam. I started taking the class, and somehow got the immediate idea to shadow the chaplains. I have had an AMAZING experience with them and am basically feeling a call, and am now starting to plan out how I can do it: the masters and the lay chaplaincy.

So, this has been deferred for some time, but it's looped back to the topic that got me started on the path, AND it is using my strengths [all of this potentially]. So maybe it's all "in God's time". Happy Thanksgiving, ALL!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Unbind him, and let him go"

As some of you know, I was recently at the funeral of a friend of mine, and while I mourned his passing, the words that the priest spoke during his homily helped me overcome another loss. The priest said, "we must forgive him for leaving us. He was struggling, suffering his own crucifixion. We need to forgive him, and let his soul go on." At those words I wept. They helped me so much. They put into perspective the struggle of my friend "James" who died, under similar circumstances, over 11 years ago now.

I didn't hear these words then, if they were even said. But now, they have helped me to deal with the loss of James. To let him go on, forgive him, and remember without devastation and fresh tears, what a great person he was before he left us.

The Sunday after the funeral, the Gospel reading at church was John 11:32-44, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb. If you have a moment, go read it, it's a powerful and moving story of loss, and recovery. Jesus' friend Lazarus was dead and buried, and Jesus raises him from the dead (a miracle). But what struck me, and has helped me SO MUCH were the last words that Jesus says to his friends in this little story:

"Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

I will unbind James, and let him go. I will keep my memories of him, but I will let go of my anger at him for leaving us all. I forgive him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11th

Whether you call it Armistice Day or Veteran's Day or Remembrance Day, today is a good day to remember soldiers and their sacrifices for our freedom.

I had never realized that there was a connection between Martin of Tours and Armistice day, until I just saw in the Wikipedia article on him that he was buried on November 11, 397. The day in the Church is called Martinmas, or Feast of St Martin, but it is apparently coincidence that these two share the same day. He was named Martin after Mars, the Roman god of War and is the patron saint of France and soldiers, and also conscientious objectors since he later went on to refuse to fight saying, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." The article goes on to say:

While Martin was still a soldier at Amiens he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me." (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks.

The Wikipedia article also notes that the word "Chaplain" comes from the name and veneration of the cape he allegedly gave a beggar...after which he had a vision of Christ and became a Christian. "One of the many services a chaplain can provide is spiritual and pastoral support for military service personnel by performing religious services at sea or in the battlefield.[7]"

I've been observing chaplains at the local hospital and am so amazed by their work and ministry. I'm thinking about it as a path for myself.... I think it's synchronicity that I am learning about all this today. I had never even heard of Martinmas until today.

Anyways, I want to say thank you to Veterans. Someone I know on Facebook said that "on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Andy Rooney said that as a Vet, he would like to work toward a Peace Day, because every single military death is a tragedy that person and his (and now her) loved ones. He said thank me by stopping the need for a Veteran's Day."