First off, let me preface this post by saying that things are going pretty well for the most part. This piece of writing is basically just some thoughts I've been having.
Ma went to live in a nursing home almost three weeks ago. She doesn't like it at all, but we don't think she realizes she's living there. The times I've talked to her, she seems to think she's visiting someone else. I was talking to YS today, and she said that they called Sis the other day to tell her to find someplace else to place Ma because Ma keeps escaping. This place has been restraint free for 70 years, and they don't want to start up again now. So, we're probably going to have to move her farther away, because, to my knowledge, there aren't any locked dementia units near "home."
Because Ma no longer lives at home, and because OB has his own house, no one is left at home. No one. There is no one to come and go, sit on the porch, or get the mail. The last one kinda had me in a funk last week. YS went to the post office and had Ma's mail forwarded to Sis, and had my address changed here to the Mothership. P.O. Box 81 for us is no more. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it feels like it is. This is the address I memorized when I was a kid, and the address where I received mail (that made me feel important). But, I no longer get any mail there; not by my full choice, but by circumstance. But, I'm not moving home just so I can keep getting mail there. We all must move on, and so I am realizing this further.
I also have been pondering a lot about Clinical Pastoral Education lately. While in CPE, I really "enjoyed" (if that is a word you can use when dealing with illness and death) my time. As I reflect back on my time in CPE, I am continuing to find the exceeding value of those few months, and those people with whom I shared my CPE time. I have taken the training I received out of that place, and have tried to implement it in my family, and in social and other settings. I have been finding myself listening more intently and caring more deeply. This is a good thing. I like listening to people; to their stories, to their struggles, to the mundane, to their joys, and even to their fears. I like trying to speak a word of grace and hope to those who come to me. So, I've been finding myself contemplating taking another unit of CPE next summer. At this point, I'm not sure if I will or not, but I know that I have a place at my previous CPE location. Supa included in his evaluation of me a sentence that read, "I would take Trish as a student again with no reservation." So, it's something I will be considering and discerning these coming months.
I also have been reading about and viewing much of the Churchwide Assembly the last day and a half. As a matter of fact, I have it playing now. I watched the fourth ballot for the election of a new Church secretary. I have read that David Swartling has been elected. If my memory serves me correctly, he is a lawyer. I also watched the gratitude expressed to outgoing Secretary Lowell Almen. Thanks be to God for his many years of service, and for his dry, and yet amusing humor. I read the many pages on www.elca.org/assembly concerning chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, and clinical education. Unfortunately, the number of ELCA leaders engaging in this type of leadership is decreasing in a fairly dramatic way. And while I was reading this, I think I may have felt a tug toward this type of ministry. I'm really, REALLY not sure if this was really a tug, or if maybe it was just me being "nostalgic" or appreciative of my time in CPE. But I do know that I appreciate Supa and the man of faith and grace he is, and I pray and hope that many other people like him join the ranks of those who try to shape learning minds to reach out to people who are living with pain and fear.
And so, as I look back on my short life and the things I've seen and done, I think that perhaps the hardships I have faced and am facing could be seen as gifts for chaplaincy or as a CPE supervisor ministry. Even more of a gift is the fact that God has remained faithful and loving to me, despite my sometimes angry cries and prayers to God, and despite my own unfaithfulness. So as to not put the cart before the horse, I will discern about a second unit of CPE, as multiple units are required to become a chaplain and supervisor. I'm also very early on in my theological education, and I know that I will have time to discern. Don't get me wrong, ordained leadership is still very much where I feel called. The question is merely, "To what type of ordained ministry am I called?"
Life is most assuredly an interesting ride.