Leaving part 1

Letter accepted

only need an ending date

really resigning

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Don’t give up

At times all seems lost

burning flames leave cold embers

build another fire

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Travelling the road- part one Writing 101 Day Four

Each day I take my greyhound and my chihuahua on long walks through the country roads of the tiny village I live in. A small woman, between two extremes, we catch the eyes of many commuters. Our definitions of walking are somewhat
different. My idea of walking is to get exercise and watch the natural world as I pass by. It is a time for processing life events, time away from the activities of my personal and/or professional life. I walk to disconnect.

The dogs believe a walk is for scratching the dirt, sniffing under the leaves, looking below the surface, and uncovering their dog truths. They seek to connection with their world beyond the house. They love to check things out. While they are checking I watch for my everyday connection with strangers. There are those I wave to, who without a word between us have become important to the start of my day.

This is the way that chaplaincy entered my life. Clinical pastoral education was a seminary requirement, not a career option. All of a sudden it became an important start to my day. Initially, I understood that seminary was my way of becoming the best religious educator I could be. This is only one of the ways in which my theological education would expand my understanding of caring for others and changing my own life. Once I experienced hospital ministry I came to understand the real reason I went to seminary. Chaplaincy became the goal and board certification as a chaplain, the standard I set my sights on. This goal took me for an unanticipated journey that included four Clinical Pastoral Education units (CPE to the initiated), one ordination, one denominational endorsement, one appearance to yet another group for the granting of board certification Ten years of hospital chaplaincy later, I find myself on an unfamiliar path. I have chosen to leave a stressful hospital position.

Writing 101 The Impossible Musical Choice

Day Three: Commit to a Writing Practice.  Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

My initial reaction is: impossible choice. Music is deeply personal and each day offers me the chance to choose new and old favorites again and again.  Additionally, in my work I am always choosing music for rituals, life events and other activities. While I appreciate music that is specified for such things, I believe that popular/secular music has the potential to be used in ritual and try to choose songs that reflect the lives of the people I encounter. All music, even the types that may not resonate with me are offerings to the universe. Art is our act of offering our best selves to the spirit and if you believe; to God or a power greater than ourselves.

Music often expresses what I cannot, in a way I cannot.  Although my undergraduate degree is in music, I utilize music as an avocation or adjunct to my work. I love that a song can transport me to a place I was when I was five or fifteen or twenty five, when the first few notes come drifting through the speakers. Music lulled my children to sleep as I sang “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof  to them at night. Music takes me through seemingly insufferable workouts cheering me on.  It accompanies me on long road trips. It lifts me up when I’m down or allows me some minutes of wallowing when I am processing the events that took me down. In the span of a playlist I can travel back in time and relive favorite moments all through a song. These reasons scratch the surface of why this writing assignment seems challenging to me.

So my twist is that for today, these three songs are the ones I choose from my infinitely overwhelming and exhilarating musical tarot deck. The music speaks for itself. I’m approaching this as a three song reading of my life today. Faith, Hope and Love. Today’s playlist is exactly that.  Tomorrow’s will be different and might include Bright Eyes, Gogol Bordello, and Leonard Bernstein.  I won’t know until I wake up.

Faith: Faith cannot grow without doubt. This song expresses that sentiment for me in a way I hope to embody faith. It is a struggle, a joy, a challenge and an important part of my life.Faith is about kind action and even in my struggles I am no less obligated to try to make positive change. Billiy Joel- River of Dreams

Hope: Warren Zevon is better known for many other songs. To me this song is about hope and about caring for those who care for us.  It is an expression of gratitude. I hear it and sing it as a prayer. Warren Zevon Don’t Let us Get Sick

Love: My Uncle introduced this song and the whole show- Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, to me when I was a teenager. I picked this version, rather than my beloved one from the show because I hear this song as an anthem or hymn and because I still dream of a world where the words of this song become true. Jacques Brel If We Only Have Love

Geography of Place

In Writing 101 today’s assignment is: Choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

“If only there were time enough or word enough or rhyme enough, I would take you there.” Harry Nilsson

How many words have been written to evoke the ideas of place and what it means to us?  Who am I, (an unworthy writer) to describe the place I want to go? Despite my disclaimer I will do what I can to take us there.

In this place, the sun pours in, creating a feeling of warmth and calls up the appearance comfort. How does comfort appear? On a  creamy white plate, It is fresh baked just buttered. Little pools of sun shining on a raft. Through an open window light streams in, lulling me to relax. As if someone extended an irresistible invitation, like the sand at water’s edge on your feet. The perfect mix of coolness on your feet and warmth on your back. A hint of a breeze dancing on your face.

When I am in this place I feel complete surrender and the willingness to engage with all my surroundings. Mind, body and spirit are one. I am completely at home in myself and the world around me. Like a chilled glass of water, I breathe deeply and drink it in. It is the place where sunflowers wave to me in the wind and clocks stop. Although I’ve pictured many images that call summer to mind, in this place, weather doesn’t matter. I could be standing in a soaking rain, but not feel it, or feel it and enjoy it. I am weightless here and held completely by the feelings of strength. It is as if someone is holding me and I trust them so much that I can melt  into the security they offer. I know they will accept and carry me, enveloping me like a warm sweater.

Like Dorothy, we can all go there. How we get there may not be by clicking our heels, but it is a place many of us yearn for.  It is where we are most at home. If I had my choice I would stay there most of the time, but I resign myself to the times I must leave, because those times heighten my feelings of wanting to get back there as soon as I can. When I am stressed or feel the heavy cloak of fear choking me, I go back there, calling up some of the images I’ve shared. While I think of it as my actual home at times, what it really is, is that feeling of being comfortable and having a place in the world. It is love, but love is so many things to so many people I cannot begin to say what it is for each reader.  For myself, I know it is this nearly indescribable feeling that fills me with joy and purpose. It is the feeling of acceptance, trust and harmony.

Because music is often my vehicle for arriving at this place I’ve included links to a couple of songs that take me to this place. I’d love to know what takes my readers to this place so please share your songs, images or memories of home/love/acceptance, should you choose to comment.

“And it’s my mind, and there’s no time when I’m alone.” Lennon and McCartney