Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nobody Told Me...

It has taken me over two months to even BEGIN to process all that took place during my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) this past summer at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Colorado.  What a gift it was to worship at my home congregation of Bethany Lutheran Church on so many occasions, even if I was called to the hospital during multiple services!  

CPE is a requirement for all seminary students, and includes direct instruction, small-group time, conferencing, counseling, de-briefing, and a TON of time with real patients in real situations on REAL days of their lives.  While I might have been practicing this new call of Pastor and Chaplain, the people I met this summer were experiencing their lives changing in front of their eyes.  This wasn’t a practice or dress rehearsal for them, and as a Chaplain I had a front-row seat to all of the drama, the pain, the joy, and certainly, to all of the emotion. 

Among the millions of things I learned 
how to do this summer, 
there are a few things that nobody told me: 

Nobody told me....
…what it would feel like when someone's heart actually stopped beating.
…how important it was to meet with my pastors over the summer.
…I'd find myself assisting EMTs at a motorcycle accident on I-25.
…what the faces of ER staff would look like when they were unable to save a patient.
…how helpful it was to hear the laughter of children.
…just how tiny a miscarried baby would be.
…that Chaplains are bouncers when it comes to unruly or unwanted visitors.

Nobody told me…
…what a Godsend it would be to return home to Susan each night.
…that sleep was such an ungraspable commodity.
…that burying multiple Bethany friends this summer would only add to the heartache.
…how incredibly unhelpful printed books and resources would be when it came time to actually offer comfort. 
…that when everyone else walks out of a room, a Chaplain walks in.

Nobody told me…
…that sometimes tears were the only answer.
…that I can now smell death the moment I walk onto a floor.
…that I would literally live out the 'pray unceasingly' part of Scripture…EVERY MINUTE.
…what a relief it would be to round a corner and see a familiar face.
…what a joy it would be to sit and chat with Bethany members
…that a drunk visitor would pull a knife on me (which the teacher in me immediately and safely confiscated).

Nobody told me…
...my heart would literally skip a beat seeing a family member on the ER bed.
…just how healing the Rocky Mountains would be this summer. 
…how useful my many years of teaching would be when it came to negotiating end-of-life decisions with families.
…what it would feel like to hold a mother as her child died.
…that sunsets and sunrises would be healing balm for my soul.

Nobody told me…
…about the wounding and breaking of my heart when the abandoned infant, whom we had cared for so deeply,  died in our arms at 45 days old. Rest in peace, sweet Adriana.
…how baptismal waters would cleanse and heal again and again. 
…that as Chaplains, we literally deliver the remains of the miscarried children to the local mortuary, where they lay those sweet and deeply-loved babies to rest.
…that my colleagues would be so caring and loving and genuine.

Nobody told me…
…that a sense of humor is a MUST.
…that I'd be filling out toe tags for patients who had died.  Toe tags, people.  Toe tags. 
…that teaching piano lessons would actually be a welcome escape.
…just how cold and cramped a morgue really is.
…that I will detest the sound of a beeper for the rest of my life. 
…how fulfilling it felt to sit beside those awaiting surgery, holding their hands, and quelling their fears. 
…how peaceful death can be.
...that my hair would literally turn grey...er...SILVER this summer.  Truly.

Nobody told me…
…how much food a family needs while waiting for their loved one to die.
…what courage it would take to press SEND on the phone when calling a family to notify them that their loved one had just died.
…the stamina (and stomach) one needs when walking into the ER and greeting a patient...and their gruesome injury.
…that heroin is a true enemy in this state. 

Nobody told me…
…how refreshing it was to welcome visitors for lunch, filling my cup with joy again.
…that nurses need just as much love as the patients. 
… I'd be coaching people out of committing suicide.  Often.
…that even Atheists want Chaplains to stay in their rooms and listen to their story.
…that the sound of a helicopter or ambulance will continue to take my breath away.
…how predictable and unique each and every death truly is.

Nobody told me…
…that even someone with this much energy has the 
capacity to quietly and compassionately minister to those in need.
…just how splashed with grace I would be by the 
patients who kindly received me into their rooms and their lives.
…how the Holy Spirit would move amongst ALL of the workers at the hospital
…what holy ground I'd be walking upon.

Nobody told me…
…that this was the summer I was to become a Pastor.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Holy Happenings!

I'm excited to announce 
my upcoming Pilgrimage!

Details below.  
Click HERE to donate!

In the Footsteps of Jesus:

A Study Tour 

to the Holy Land

15-Day Trip ~ January 6 - 20, 2017

Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and more 

Ah’lan wa Sah’lan! In Arabic, this phrase means “Welcome!” and is often used as an invitation. We’d like to offer you that invitation now: to join us on a journey to Israel and Palestine in January, 2017.

We’ll spend time first in Galilee and then in Haifa, Jerusalem and the West Bank (Bethlehem and surrounding towns). We’ll explore ancient sites from the Old and New Testaments, the settings for the events of the Bible. We’ll also meet the people who live, work, and worship in these places today. We will break bread together and gather for worship and devotions. The trip will offer us new insight about the land and its people: the past, present, and future of the place in which Jesus lived and did his ministry. Our hope is that all participants will find a deeper connection to the roots of Christianity, and gain greater insight and understanding of the current situation in the Holy Land.

You will be led by tour guides native to the Holy Land, and by three hosts chosen by PLTS for their insights, knowledge of the area and connections to local organizations.

Holy Land Pilgrimage ~ Itinerary

Friday, January 6, 2017 – San Francisco Departure: Today we begin our journey to Tel Aviv. Meals and beverages will be served as appropriate during the overnight flight.

Saturday, Jan. 7 Arrive Tel Aviv: Upon arrival this afternoon in Tel Aviv we will meet our tour guide, who will direct us to our motorcoach for the transfer to our hotel in Nazareth. Upon arrival at the hotel we will have dinner, unpack and relax. (D)

Sunday, Jan. 8 – Nazareth: We begin this morning in Nazareth by visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation and other places significant in the life of Jesus’ family. We will also visit Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle, and Mt. Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration. Later, we will meet with an organization working with Christian and Muslim Israelis - a majority in towns such as Nazareth, but a religious minority within Israel. In the evening, we’ll return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

Monday, Jan. 9 - Tiberias and Sea of Galilee: Today we will explore the area around the Sea of Galilee, where much of Jesus’ ministry occurred. Highlights include Capernaum (where Jesus began his public life), Tabgha (the feeding of the 5,000), Mt. of Beatitudes, the Golan Heights, and Caesarea Philippi. We will gather for a Communion service at Tabgha, and end the day with a beautiful sunset cruise on the Sea of Galilee before returning to our hotel. (B, D)

Tuesday, Jan. 10 - Lower Galilee: Today’s journey takes us first to the Jordan River where we have the opportunity to participate in a renewal of baptism. Next, we’ll drive through Magdala (home of Mary Magdalene) and visit the village of Eilaboun, a typical small Christian/Muslim village in Galilee where we will have lunch, meet local residents, and visit a Melkite church. Next we will travel through the beautiful Lower Galilee and arrive at our hotel in Haifa. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, Jan. 11 - Haifa: Today we explore Haifa, a city of 5 different ethnicities and religions living in harmony. A day filled with beauty and learning begins with a visit to Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elijah battled against the prophets of Baal. We will learn about the Baha’i faith during a stop at the beautiful Baha’i Temple and gardens, and we’ll enjoy an authentic lunch and spend time at a local market. In the afternoon we’ll have the opportunity for in-depth discussion at a nearby Jewish-Arab co-existence center. Later, we’ll drive through the vista point of Stella Maris before returning to our hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure. (B, L, D)

Thursday, Jan. 12- Traveling to Jerusalem: During today’s journey to Jerusalem we will stop at Neve Shalom - Wahat al- Salaam (Oasis of Peace), an intentional community jointly established by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. We’ll have lunch and conversation with peacemakers who live their dream. We’ll also make a stop at the Roman ruins of Caesarea-by-the-sea before arriving at our Jerusalem hotel late this afternoon. (B, L, D)

Friday, Jan. 13 – Jerusalem: This morning we will travel back in time as we visit the archeological excavations of the biblical city of King David and explore the ancient city of Jerusalem. If time permits, we will visit the “Machane Yehuda” marketplace to experience the atmosphere of preparation for Shabbat. After dinner we will take a late night stroll to the Western Wall, where you’ll have a chance to write your personal prayers to God and put them in the Western Wall. (B, D) 

Saturday, Jan. 14 Jerusalem: We begin our day by visiting the grounds of the third most holy place in the Muslim tradition, Al-Aqsa Mosque, where according to the Quran, the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Later we will visit the Mount of Olives and tour Augusta Victoria Hospital with Rev. Mark Brown of the Lutheran World Federation after which we will have a catered lunch at the LWF Vocational Training Center and tour that facility. Later we will walk part of the Palm Sunday Road to visit the Garden of Gethsemane, and in the late afternoon we’ll walk through the Armenian, Arab and Jewish quarters of Jerusalem’s old city. (B, D)

Sunday, Jan. 15 - Jerusalem: For those who wish to participate this morning will begin with a very early breakfast and an early morning walk along the Via Dolorosa. At 9AM we will gather for worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer followed by a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Later we will visit Yad Vashem Holocaust history museum. From Yad Vashem, we will return to our hotel for a free evening. (B, D)

Monday, Jan. 16- Bethlehem: Today we explore “the little town of Bethlehem.” We begin the day visiting sites commemorating the birth of Jesus – the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field. We will also visit the DIYAR International Center, where we will enjoy lunch and a special talk led by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. This afternoon we will meet with local dignitaries and organizations to gain a deeper understanding of the current political and cultural situation in Palastine. This evening we will enjoy dinner with our guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Robert Smith, Academic Director for University of Notre Dame at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, before returning to our Bethlehem hotel. (B, L, D)

Tuesday, Jan. 17 - Jericho: Today begins with a visit to ancient Jericho, where we have the opportunity to travel by cable car to the Mount of Temptation and enjoy the panoramic view before enjoying lunch in the Old City of Jericho. This afternoon we will motor to the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth, where we’ll have the unique opportunity to float in the Sea. Next we will see Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, before returning to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, Jan. 18 Bethlehem: Today we plan to visit the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Beit Jala. Returning to Bethlehem, we will meet with local Israeli and Palestinian organizations before enjoying dinner in Bethlehem. This evening we will have the unique opportunity to celebrate Christmas with our Armenian brothers and sisters as we witness their Christmas Eve procession to Manger Square. We will return to our Bethlehem hotel for overnight. (B, D)

Thursday Jan. 19. 2017 – Bethlehem / Tel Aviv: This morning we will meet with Dr. Charlie Haddad, Director of Education, to discuss Lutheran education in the Holy Land and visit a Lutheran school. If schedules allow, we will also meet Bishop Munib Younan of the ELCJHL and President of the Lutheran World Federation. Later we will travel to Ramallah for a tour of the city and a visit to the Palestinian Authority governmental site and Arafat’s tomb. This evening we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant featuring a local dancing group before transferring to Tel Aviv Airport to board our overnight flight home. (B, D)

Friday Jan. 20, Tel Aviv / San Francisco: We arrive in San Francisco this morning. Welcome home!

Key: B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner 

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Do They See?

This poem was written for my Public Ministry class, Spring 2016.  It's a faith-rooted response to a public issue in the News.  The photos are screenshots from CNN.com and the images of the children are what prompted me to respond.  

What Do They See?

What do they see, these children of three, as they travel on through busy streets? 
The carnage, the bodies, the panic, despair - just a few of the troubles they meet.

What do they see, these children so young, as they hear yet another bomb blow? 
A bus overturned, another life lost, the embers of doom still aglow.

What do they see, these children of youth, as they press up their noses to glass?
More guards with more guns and more fights to be won when they really should just be in class.

What do they see, these children alone, who head into days of unease?

An absence of doctors and nurses to care for their latest and painful disease.

What do they see, these children so brave, who head down the road on their carts?

A path of destruction, with no safety measures, and scenes that could only break hearts.

What...COULD they see, these children of three, as they travel on through busy streets? 
A hustle and bustle of workers and people and friendly, new faces to meet.

What COULD they see, these children so young, as they hear yet another bomb blow? 
That thankfully, only a car’s muffler rumbling, as sputtering past it does go.

What COULD they see, these children of youth, as they press up their noses to glass? 
The wonder of creatures, with colorful features, as they swim and they amble on past.

What COULD they see, these children alone, who head into days of unease? 
The arms of adults, who will love them through faults, and embrace them with love and a squeeze.

What COULD they see, these children so brave, who head down the road on their cart? 
A road filled with movement and motion and memories, adventure inside their dear hearts.

Creator God, we entrust the live of these children to your Almighty care. They are children of the earth, children of our time...YOUR children. Protect them, shepherd them, guide them, and love them so that
they may grow into the beautiful beings they were meant to become. In your Holy name we pray, Amen.