Growing Edges

neurobiology-writers-block-phd-students

I am at the dining room table with folders, cup of tea, scripture, a couple of pens and my music going. This seems to be a space where I can get the writing done.  The project this week is to gather the paperwork together for a Clinical Pastoral Education Equivalency.  To be certified by the Association of Professional Chaplain one needs to have a Master of Divinity degree, four units of CPE- that’s the clinical pastoral ed thing- and then 2000 hours as a paid chaplain.    I have completed the MDiv, have two accredited CPE units done with a third starting up at the end of May and one year of field study that should qualify for the equivalency unit.  You are allowed one of the four units to be an equivalency.  So there are the details.

The bigger picture is that I have been going over what I did in chaplaincy work my second year of seminary.   You have to do field work as part of the requirements for the degree and most seminarians do their year at a church because they are following a call to ordination as a minister within some sort of denomination.  I am called to be an interfaith chaplain which is a bit different and so I did a field study placement as a chaplain intern at Newton Wellesley Hospital through Harvard Divinity School.   Now I am looking back to see what my goals were then and how I attained them, or changed them or found out I needed some more work in certain areas.  We call that our “growing edges”.  God I hate that term.

Seems like every field; ministry, business, psychology, all comes with terminology.  And every association or grouping of folk have their rules and regulations that from the society for which they congregate.  I get that.  I get that we form groups with like-minded folks and have rules by which we play.  But sometimes the rules become its own game.  And I don’t like that either.  I want to get to the actual doing of stuff, working with people, rather than getting stuck in the details.

It is not that I don’t need more training.  I do and I hope to remain teachable and open to learning more about the art of chaplaincy and pastoral care.  But the whole paperwork thing drives me buggers.  To the point where I will do almost anything to get around what it is I should be doing.  I have been know to clean the bathroom instead of writing the paper.  I also just took up running again, not to get into shape, but most likey to avoid the paperwork.  If I run myself tired I won’t have so much angst about the paperwork.  And it is really not that bad.   Not like a theological systematics paper  for Prof. Heim or a Christology paper for Prof. Valentine.

And here is what I know about myself.  I get all caught up in the angst of getting the paperwork done, rather than just sitting down and answering the questions and writing the papers.  Nothing has changed much there.  I would rather blog, with the hope that by clearing my voice and opening up the flow of writing, that the writing I need to submit will come easier.   And that my friends, all comes down to being judged as being acceptable by how I write and what I say.   Old wounds from Jr. High School where I learned I am dyslexic and became fearful that what I wrote was wrong because I never understood what exactly people were asking me to do.

OK, so stepping back, I have a folder of work I did for a field study through Harvard.  They thought it was good enough to pass me through.  I guess my “growing edge” is to accept that perhaps what I did should count for something.

Inaugural launch of the River Rat Gang

As expected; I mustered, got up, got dressed, and walked out the door.  Down the street and to the church. The sermon started out with a congratulations that we had come to church on such a beautiful day.  A recognition that we could all be home reading the Sunday paper, getting ahead of the neighbors with yard work or taking the day to be outside, but we didn’t. We came to church. Which according to the priest, was the correct decision.  Why?  Because God graces us with the holy spirit when we worship Him.

Now theologically I am not so sure I stand on the same page, however the priest’s next few lines addressed that too.  Roughly paraphrasing he said, “Now people who are intellectual, well read, analytical have a difficult time with this.” He nailed it. ” People like me who need the grace will take it.”  Boom, shut it down.

I over think, almost everything, I am pretty sure.  Wait, let me think about that.  Yup, I think I over think. I am such an alcoholic.  My silly little dyslexic, addicted brain likes to go to the default of over thinking almost everything.  However I am learning how to let that all go.

Best thing to do on a hugely nice day is to kayak.  Get outside and out of my head. Phone rings and it is a peep from the program.  “What are you doing today?” they asked.

“Going kayaking” I say.

” I wanna go too” ……well now I am in a jam, I have two boats, two paddles and two life jackets.

“Ok, well have you ever kayaked? ”  Total stall.

“No, but I have canoed”   I am thinking, not the same thing.  This is the Charles river, dirty and spring level high, someone new in a boat could get into trouble.  Plus I am still grumpy and not wanting to give a lesson.

“Well the river is high and I haven’t checked it out yet” truth ” So not today but maybe later in the spring when the water warms up.

“OK… well, have a good time. ”

So I got one of the boats ready and not having roof racks that fit my leased car and not wanting to scratch the top of the car trying to get the boat on top, I decide to put the boat in the car and tie it down.  It almost fits the full way in, then I give it another slight push and crack the inside of the windshield.   It splinters out like a spiderweb the size of a dinner plate.

I call my peep back and offer to meet up and go over to the different spots on the river to see how it is flowing. We meet  up and drive along to where the put in sites are.  A few trees down, one by the Bridge Street bridge which would cause trouble if you don’t know how to read the river.  The current is fast and the tree is pushed up against the bridge right where one would paddle.  I am thinking I made a good decision on not  bringing a new-bee out on a first run.

Then around the bend comes a group of paddlers, all having a blast.  Another put in point and more paddlers.   And my peep really wants to go.   Starts pleading.  Says we can scratch up the top of their car to go.  Deep breath.  Ok, let’s do it.

30 minutes later both boats are strapped down and we roll to the put in point.  Quick lesson on dry land on getting in and out of the boat, and we shove off.  It is the inaugural  outing of the River Rat Gang. They get the hang of it and we travel for about an hour up-stream and then  back.  The water is dark and swift in some areas, but no white water to get nervous about.  They have a great time and it is a new world to them.  Service 101.

To get out of your head, do something nice for someone else.  Be a friend.  It took a busted windshield to get my head out of my ass and  do the next right thing.  God works like that.  I sometimes need a sermon launched in my general direction.  I need the confession and absolution and sometimes, when that doesn’t get me all the way, I need to be stopped in my tracks and redirected.

Thanks be to God.