Monday, September 10, 2007

It's been a bit busy around here...

I didn't realize how long it had been since my last entry however. The hiring process to which I referred got even more confounded and I wasn't able to officially have a "first day of work" until 8/30. Such is the process today--I was required to provide a physical capability report from my physician and then the employers had to make a determination as to whether my permanent restriction on lifting could be accommodated. I was a wreck; I can catastrophize better than most and had pretty much decided that owing to my age and decrepitude I was unemployable. However I finally was able to begin orienting; last week was a full week orienting with all of the various positions in the organization. I had forgotten how exhausting it is to start something new and was glassy-eyed by the end. My chaplain style is somewhat different from those of the full-time and part-time regular chaplains (as theirs is from one another) and of course each of them has 4 units of CPE to my lousy one. However I think once settled in I will be OK. It was a pleasure to see familiar and beloved faces on the inpatient and home care teams!

The inpatient hospice staff will, I predict, find ways to use my time on weekends. The homecare, not so much; they don't find many situations that could in their experience benefit from a chaplain. They find that, when there are deaths, families would either prefer a spiritual caregiver they already know or privacy. And perhaps once per year a family requests that a chaplain attend the death, so that won't be a big use.

The full-time chaplain is a practitioner of a couple of alternative healing arts and is willing to offer those for the benefit of patients and staff. The part-time one also... I suppose I *could* say I do a bit of therapeutic touch, and might do so in a pinch, but in a way that seems to tread on the toes of nursing staff, and also of the staff who are professionals in massage and healing arts who are available to patients at least in the inpatient unit. I dunno. However, in making a visit shadowed by the part-time chaplain, whose time is dedicated to the inpatient unit, I was able to discern via observation what she discerned via scrutiny of energy fields, so hopefully I won't be utterly useless in comparison.

It is good to be back, good to see patients, good to have a badge that says I am actually a hospice chaplain, even if only part-time and on-call. The HR staff, who create the employee badges, have offered me an opportunity to let go of any spiritual pride attendant upon finishing my M.Div degree, as my badge has the M. on one line and the Div. on the next, like this:

Firstname Lastname M.

It is a testimony to how rigorous we all are at looking at employee badges that no one has commented on this.

Toby Wolfhound continues to grow. He is now tall enough to look out the windows with ease, and what he sees disturbs him greatly: there are PEOPLE out there. And they need to be barked at. Today is particularly awful, because there are tree trimmers hired by the power company who are out back cutting branches away from the lines. I have finally tucked him into his big pen so he doesn't see out the window, because the racket is giving me a headache. He is not altogether terrified; he is both terrified AND excited, and now he is barking at me from the pen--he wants to come out and watch some more. Oy. He's doing great at walking on lead, and increasing his confidence out and around the neighborhood; I am totally proud of him! Such a good puppy. I need to take more photos.

In the last couple of weeks, I have heard more information that validates my decision to leave my former denomination. Also, I preached at the church where I was until June, on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It is so painful. This church does SO much good, and provided a place of great theological freedom and safety. But there is "DNA" in the denomination that has been there from the beginning that prevents it from being a safe place for all, and even prevents it from acknowledging it is not safe for all. There are too many toxic secrets, and the denomination is really not ready to begin to address them. I keep thinking, it could be so much better. One good thing that came of the preaching assignment is that I came away feeling that I could in fact be effective in parish ministry; I don't anymore believe without qualification the pastor's assessment of me, because now I know more about his own personal philosophy and behavioral choices.

Had a wonderful meeting with a pastor in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion church where I've been going to worship. He is also a pastoral psychotherapist. I ended up basically blabbing about the events of the past year and venting. He agrees with my self-assessment: that I am not even really ready to join a congregation let alone a denomination. I worship at his church as a place of respite and he is fine with that. Working weekends gives me a perfect explanation for my former church members who want to know why I am not with them, and who know only bits and pieces of why. (Much of what I learned was learned in confidential settings and cannot be disclosed to members of the parish.)

The young man for whom so many have been so generous with prayers (thank you!!) is recovering. Some of the really awful physical consequences he could have had seem not to be happening, thank heavens, but other, more subtle effects will take months to sort out. His treatment continues, and those who love him are hoping that he will in fact have the chance at a life without severe restrictions.

And that's all for now!


Blogger Mary Beth said...

Have been visiting you and praying for you in your blog-absence. Glad it is coming together well.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Counselor in Process said...

What is the Ecumenical Catholic Communion church? Is it affiliated with the RC church or some other or no affiliation?

5:28 PM  
Blogger Mother Laura said...

Congratulations on the job Terri! I hope it all goes beautifully. And I am glad that your young friend is doing better.

I am not sure if I have commented before though I have prayed for you and am glad to be in community through RGBP.

I will go ahead and answer the ECC question, if I may, since I am also in the Independent Catholic movement.

If the ECC is the same one I am aware of, and have served as volunteer clergy in one of their parishes, it is an Independent Catholic jurisdiction. (Like my own, Sophia Catholic Communion).

We ICs have the historic apostolic succession, usually through Old Catholic lines (Polish National Catholic Church, etc.). This is specifically recognized by RC canon law, though B16 would no doubt say it doesn't take on girl priests, or on guy priests ordained by girl bishops like myself. :-)

We are similar to the Episcopal Church in many ways, trying to keep the best of the Catholic tradition in terms of sacraments, liturgy, spirituality, etc. but being more open and progressive than the RC church at present. There are many tiny little groups, some more traditional and some more progressive. Most are decent about women by now but there is a real mix on lgbt rights--some are still homophobic. Some IC male priests are former RC priests--straight guys who got married or gay guys who came out.

I blog about IC stuff as does my friend Fr. Chris Tessone (Even the Devils Believe, linked off my blog).

Okay hope this was helpful and wasn't a threadjack!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Eliza said...

Wow, last time I looked in on you you were unemployed, and now check you out, badge and all! Thanks for reading and especially for the comments--I didn't "see" you for a bit during what I now realize was your training and such, and was like "WHERE IS TERRI C? I HOPE SHE'S OKAY!" I guess if I'd been bright enough to click on your name I could've stopped worrying. My brain...if you see it, let me know. Thanks :)

8:13 PM  
Blogger terri c said...

Thanks for the comments! Mother Laura's right, ECC is the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, another little independent Catholic denomination. Very small at present and not without problems, like all denominations, but some nice, nice people there.

6:15 PM  
Blogger terri c said...

And, Eliza, how nice to see you here! Your blog is terrific.

6:16 PM  

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