Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fantasies of Ministering

1:05 am in my house. Everyone is asleep in my house, even the dog. Except for me.

My reason for wakefulness is not a bad one. No worries eating at me. Fantasies, actually. Two competing fantasies, of a life as a minister.

In one, I am a hospital chaplain. I already know the first rule of medical chaplaincy -- Shut up and listen! -- but I bring more with me. I can't be all things to all people, but I have little bits and pieces that bring comfort. I visit a Jewish family and the mother wants the language from her past, as a student, as a schoolgirl.

Y'varekh'ka ADONAI v'yishmerekha
Ya'er ADONAI panav eleikha vichunekka
Yissa ADONAI panav eleikha v'yasem l'kha shalom

The LORD bless you and keep you.
The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

I speak to another. No, I am not a priest, but I can find one ... Do you know ... ? she asks ... Of course, I soothe ... Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee ...


I have another. I am a pastor and the church I serve, serves all colors, all cultures, all classes.

Black, brown, white, red, yellow. A white father and a black mother attend, and know that their child has others here, with similar backgrounds. Sometimes, being "unique" is not preferable. There are others who understand that even in this world, even now, there are prices to be paid for this richness of culture, this amalgam of ethnicity. They find each other. One can go his way alone, but Oh! To find another!

We are a church of inclusion. Each new culture adds more flavor. We know that we all benefit from the experience of another. Our readings are from the 'Gita. The Koran. The Bible. Many times the Bible, because it is the dominant religious book in our culture. Khalil Gibran. L.M. Alcott. Skinner. Heinlein. W.E.B. DuBois. A.A. Milne.

Shel Silverstein.

We laugh. We cry. We leave fear, self-consciousness, superiority -- all at the door. We leave with a mission to improve the world.

Fantasies ... keeping me awake.

Who knows what my future will be, what path will open up. A chaplaincy at a clinic, ministering to a small congregation such as my home church.

But hopefully, hopefully, I can still take these fantasies with me. And drop a little taste into wherever I land.

It is a million years from year.

And miles to go before I sleep.

1 comment:

Lilylou said...

Here's a poem I love that came to mind when I read your post, LE.

I wish for you a troubled heart at times
As woes of the world and friend come close beside
And keep you sleepless.
I wish for you the thrill of knowing
Who you are,
Where you stand,
And why.
Especially why.
Not prosperity, but dreams I wish for you;
Not riches, but a sense of your own worth I wish
For you.
Not even long life, however proud we'd be to have it so.
But life that is crammed with living,
Hour by hour.
And love I wish for you;
May you give it frequently.
I wish for you solitude in the midst of company,
And a mind full of company within your quiet times.
Full todays I wish for you, and full tomorrows.

Charles Stephens, "Some Wishes for You," in The Gift of the Ordinary (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1985), p. 10.