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