Woke up this morning to a snow covered mountain with the deer foraging for their breakfast. Thank God for electricity and a warm abode. My foraging is merely in the refrigerator for the eggs and bread. Of course, the coffee is first.
First week of second semester is over. The countdown towards the end begins. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I find myself consistently living for the next day, next week, next month or next year in anticipation of what comes next. Actually, I just want to get my papers and exams done. It’s bad that I am always in a hurry. I do enjoy studying scripture. The word, enjoy, probably does not best describe it because the classroom isn’t always filled with agreement on scripture’s interpretation. This is another terrible, probably heretical, thing to say but when we all come to our end and meet with our maker, I believe we will find out that we are all wrong. Ok, that said, I also believe that, as humans, we need some form of doctrinal structure to follow because it is easier than just following the wind. It is good that we have Jesus. It is so very good.
Theology, biblical study and the whole lot of spirituality is a matter of trying to describe the indescribable. So, I follow what I have experienced and witnessed and have come to believe with all my heart, mind and soul. Although I may not always be able to put into words the exactness of who God is, I know that presence is with me. I feel it. I trust it and I will stand firm in the belief and the faith of what has set me free and given me joy.
This summer I will be completing what is called CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE, to me, is the heart of what priesthood and ministry will be about. I will be putting in a total of four hundred hours in this “class.” It is considered a class but, it is completed by performing in-person training in a real world situation. I will be a chaplain at a hospital. I will physically be at the hospital five days a week for forty hours and then some. I expect this to be transformative training. I am nervous but, excited. Studying scripture is one thing, putting it to action is entirely another. I have no idea what I may face except that it will all fall into the category of beareavement and grief. This will be interfaith and possibly no-faith, no-belief in God. From what I have been told, I will be present when people die and I will need to be there for those who grieve. Is there a handbook for that? Does that come with a manual of “how-to?” There are general practices but, for the most part, no, there is no way to prepare for tragedy. Emotions are expressed in unexpected ways. I suppose my integral thought would be to tread carefully, tread lightly and say as little as possible. Being present in their pain is the most effective conduit of comfort I would imagine I could be.
Life is temporal. We do not know what will become of the relationships that have been established on this plane. We can imagine. We hear “stories” of what happens on “the other side.” As I have been studying this past week about St. Paul, I see more now the struggle for the forefathers of the Christian faith. Paul was required to have complete explanation for what he was preaching. Considering the context, that was a lot. Paul even had to have an answer for the dead and what happens to those who have already died before Christ has returned? Paul had to give an answer. People were under great anxiety over this.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.1 Thessalonians 4:14 The Jewish Annotated New Testament
In studying St. Paul my faith is enhanced through his letters. I am justified. Even witnessing the weakness of Paul, within his letters, I have come to love him because I can relate to his imperfection. In the eyes of people, I will never be enough and neither will Paul. The relationship I have with the intangible is not an easy one to ascertain. My faith has made me well. That is something to contemplate.