It’s not my story to tell…

I have learned a difficult lesson in  my work as a chaplain. It is one borne out of walking with others who are hurting or have hurt others… and there are times I would love to share the lessons learned, or the take-aways for me, personally.

But, the problem is, it’s not MY story to tell!

This isn’t because of HIPAA or “privacy” laws. This isn’t because the stories are boring (there are some incredible stories of healing and mercy!) It isn’t because I don’t have permission (there are many who urge me to share what they have learned.)

It is because it is, simply, gossip.

Not in the magazine trade, nasty rumors, oh-no-she-dih-unt! kind of talk. But it is the uncensored and oversharing of someone else’s business.

This week at my hospice, there were a number of patient deaths… some people whom I have followed for many months. By Thursday afternoon, my heart was tired and broken. So much loss. So much sadness. So much unknown.

As time goes by, I will have larger lessons from the collected experiences. But for now… it’s not my story to tell.

You say Goodbye… I say Hello

Almost three years ago, I walked into this office. Friday afternoon, I put the last paperclip, pen, and stapler into office relocation bins. I was a little teary, and it surprised me.

I scolded myself. “Really. This is no big deal.” And yet, it is.

The office movers arrive on Saturday, and on Monday morning, I’ll walk into a new building and new office suite. Everything will be different, from where we find coffee to what our building security access cards look like.

I’m mentally prepared for the chaos of an inter-office move. (I’m planning on chaos, anyway. It means that anything less than that will be encouraging.) I know I won’t have a desk or even a shared workstation to call my own and will be “homeless.” It’s a bit disconcerting. I am not looking forward to it. (Yes – there will be places I can sit down with my laptop… but it’s not the same.) My expectation is that it will take a lot of patience and adjusting to find this “new normal.”

I’ve thought a lot about our expectations in life, generally speaking. Sometimes they are motivating. Sometimes they are devastating to our morale. And sometimes, things go far better than we could dream! With my hospice patients and families, we often reflect on “the new normal” and the “chaos” of enrolling someone in hospice. It takes a while to get your sea legs again!

I’ve spent many hours helping people manage their expectations for their family member’s illnesses. Over and over, I will say, “we just don’t know how long…” And to the extent I can, I try to help folks find appreciation in the moments they have now on the road of loss and change…

Yep. A life lesson. Hits pretty close right now…

Wherever I travel next, I want to pack light and walk gently… and enjoy the gifts of today. And I’ll pay attention to the memories and feelings that they evoke.

Frederick Buechner said, “Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.”

Yes. Yes indeed. These teary moments have great meaning.

Friday Five: Triumphs

Kathrynzj is hosting this week’s Friday Five:

At my church we’re in the midst of a new thing – the Narrative Lectionary. So far, so good… I think. It’s so hard to tell right in the middle of something new if it’s going well or not, isn’t it? We’re still too early in the process to do a survey or really dive into the classic reflections: What worked? What didn’t? What should we change? What should stay the same?

So in an attempt to remind myself that sometimes these things take time and that I have, in fact, been involved in other triumphant things, I’ve decided to list five of my triumphs.

How ’bout it? Care to join me?List five triumphs – they can be professional (grew a youth program from 0 to 60 in 2 years) or they can be personal (she said yes). You can do a quick list or you can elaborate. They can be little (I avoided the office candy jar this week) or HUGE (I had to grind it out, but eventually I passed all of my ordination exams).  It’s totally up to you. And if you’d like a bonus question: give us a fail (hmmmm) – but you don’t have to do that one if you’re too busy being triumphant.


1. Raising two strong, young women of faith. And feminists to boot! I think they are close enough to adulthood that Bearded Brewer and I can declare this a “success.” 🙂

Our lovely daughters

Our lovely daughters

2. Overcoming stage fright. Srsly. I had it bad. Down to the “just-a-minute-before-we-go-I-need-to-puke” nerves. What helped? Listening to the people who believed in me, trusting in the God that was leading me, and absorbing a wonderful book, Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor. Because it really, truly isn’t about me. It’s about Who made me.

3. Finishing the labyrinth in our yard.
(Are you tired of reading about that yet?) It is truly lovely in this crisp fall weather we’re having. If you look closely, you can see the bricks among the leaves.

Autumn in the labyrinth

Autumn in the labyrinth

4. Getting through my M.Div., and even thriving.

I was part-time church staff, full-time wife and mom. I had to learn not just academic subjects, but life lessons about time management, boundaries, family systems, and church politics. And I still came out the other side with love for my Call and devotion to my God. After all the jokes about “going to cemetery” I can honestly say that the time I spent in my studies in Divinity School was good for my soul.

5. Being a chaplain. I love my work. I know what I do is important, even if it feels invisible and not a priority for people who hold the purse strings. For the people God sends me to, it’s priceless.

Heading to the Trauma Room.

Just doing rounds…

BONUS: A fail. Well, I can think of two. First, I will never EVER be a high wire artist. I made it through a high ropes course without an accident (of any kind). But the memory of doing this terrifies me to this day. And while I am sure it is fun and relaxing, I won’t be going on a cruise any time soon.

I said, "No Thank You!"

I said, “No Thank You!”