Recently, I was accepted into a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship program. It is at a local hospital, and I am in a group with five other interns. It is an incredibly intensive program – we interns are invited to minister to the patients at the hospital one-on-one in every kind of circumstance.
I’ve not had to be at a job site from 8:30-5:00 in a long time, but that is the requirement for this ten week program. When I did work somewhere with those hours, I was getting PAID. In this case, I pay them for the privilege of learning how to pastor people I don’t know. This is a skill that I don’t really have much experience with, as congregational work takes place amongst people with whom one is familiar.
This past Monday, I was asked to say prayers over a man who was going to be removed from his ventilator. I am glad that my theology includes a concept of God as generous and understanding, because I think my prayers were inadequate. At best. His weeping family stood around the bed – and I cried with them. He was only in his fifties. I felt so sad for them. This was not what they expected.
This is perhaps the most extreme thing that can happen to a family: an unexpected death. Expected death doesn’t seem all that much better, either.
Then there are things like what I’ve been going through lately: unexpected feelings about how my life is unfolding. I wasn’t cut out to be a second wife or a step-mother. Especially when the first wife is an angry lesbian who hates my husband, her former husband. My vocational life hasn’t made much sense to me in a long time. My family life doesn’t make much sense either these days. My life with God still has its moments of transcendence and goodness, but He is confusing me too.
I’m trying to hold on to the truth that nothing can separate me from the love of God.