Looking back on 2014, I am amazed at all this year has brought, and at the same time, none of it seems possible. So, here’s a summary of the big events:
-Flew back and forth to and from San Francisco FOUR times (January, August TWICE, November)
-Two surgeries (perhaps the last for a while!) (February)
-Graduated from seminary as a Master of the Divine…finally! (May)
-Went to General Synod in Pella, IA (and wrote a blog post that got my voice and love for theology and my denomination on the RCA map) (June)
-Moved 3000 miles away from everything I have ever known to the city of my dreams (and the city that takes my breath away) to follow God’s call on my life (August)
-Started my CPE residency (in the city and at the center of my dreams) (September)
-Was ordained to Minister and Sacrament in the church that nurtured my faith, recognized God’s call in me, and took a huge leap of faith with me in the RCA (November)
-Completed my second unit of CPE and started my third (November-December)
I can’t believe I have crammed this much life and so much more into just 365 days, and yet, I feel like I have done more living in the last year than I have ever done. Being told in my twenties that I was chronically (and at times quite seriously) sick was perhaps the greatest gift I was given, in that in the last year, I grew closer to God, was forced to lean more on friends and family, and be more honest with those around me in regards to my needs. I have been forced to grow, and learn to live life based on a constant balance of wants and needs, praying without ceasing.
Thinking back on 2014, there aren’t enough words to say thanks – thanks for the grace God has given me, the opportunities and open doors, and most importantly, that God has given me the perseverance, strength and courage in the face of some very scary wilderness moments. As a hospital chaplain and story carrier, I think about how my own experiences mirror many of the patients I visit. In the darkest of moments, not only of this year, but of 2012-13 as well, I begged God for the meaning behind my brokenness, and for some semblance of normalcy in the midst of great tumult. As a chaplain for heart and lung transplants, I am blessed to hear the stories of men and women, young, old and every age in between, who wish, pray and meditate for their lives back. To be able to grocery shop, walk up stairs, and pick up children and grandchildren. Though my life is not as it was, there is a “a new normal,” and this is the Gospel, as Dr. Brown would say in preaching class my Middler year at PTS. The Gospel message in the middle of the struggle for me in 2014 is not that I am a fixed woman; rather, my scars, brokenness and wounds are what have enveloped me into the body of Christ, and are, thanks be to God, make me a useful arm, foot, finger, ear, you get the picture, in the larger body. When another part of the body is weak, my weakness makes the body stronger, and when I am weak, the body compensates to pick me up. My wounds don’t make me a better chaplain, but they are what inform my membership into the body of Christ, and allow me to feel some aspect of the pain – emotional and physical – of the patients I visit on 10 ICC and 10 CVT each and every day, as we are all sons and daughters of the same God who loves despite and because of the wounds.
My 2014 wounds are a sign of hope for 2015, as they are a sign that God has yet another chapter in store for me, that my despair is not greater than my hope, and that God’s despair for this world is not greater than His hope. I have such great hope that the God who saw it fit to call this humble servant to His ministry – the ministry of Word and Sacrament, to hospital chaplaincy – will continue to call me to wonder and surprise each and every day in the coming year. May God make me the hands and feet of Christ, open my eyes to see the face of Christ in everyone, even those who are the most difficult, open my ears to God’s still small voice so that I might be able to equip others to do the same, and open my heart to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life, that I might follow and allow It to move in my life in the most incredible of ways in the new year.
Happy 2015 everyone; thank you for all the challenges, blessings, for journeying alongside me, for being a part of my life through thick and thin, and for sticking it out with me. I can’t believe another year has gone by, and another new one has come! Here’s to a glorious new year filled with new possibilities!
“May we not lose hope, even when we despair, and may we not forget those who despair, even when our lives are filled with hope.” -Rev. Mary Brown.