Transitions are difficult. They always are. They come with beauty, goodness, formation, but undoubtedly, they come with some brokenness, weeping, heartache. Fist-shaking, cursing, and for the new me, plenty of tears.
What is all this about, you may ask? I am a minister without charge, a pastor without a call, a chaplain without a hospital, a minister without a flock. I finished my residency on Friday, and while I could finally say that I won’t be doing any 24 hour on call shifts for a while (huge sigh of relief here…), there were many tears (and I mean many…but my tear pouch is not empty, at least not quite yet), as I won’t be going to the place and serving the people where for the first time in my life I heard the voice of God the loudest. Now, mind you, I know this won’t be the last call I receive, but humor me for a moment, this ending feels catastrophic. It feels life-ending. It feels significant. Because for the first time in forever (yes, I did just quote Frozen…), I truly belonged, and it wasn’t because of something I did, but because of something God did. The work God did in and through me was magical, and at times, completely ordinary yet Divine perfection.
The morning after I finished, the sky opened, as though to empathize with my grief. If you aren’t aware, California is suffering from a multi-year drought of critical proportions, and the City of San Francisco hasn’t seen rain since December (the average rainfall in San Francisco is 0.1 inch per month, to put things in perspective). But finally, as if to say, I get your grief, I get the depth of this transition moaning, the skies opened and the heavens poured out the heaviest of raindrops. The sky boomed and roared, thunder crashed and lightening flashed – a storm truly unlike the San Francisco I have grown to know and love, but am soon leaving behind for my beloved New York.
See, here’s the thing. Everything is going to be ok. I will find a call, and the process has already begun. Resumes have been circulated, countless jobs applied for, and desperate prayers have been lifted to the heavens. But the time isn’t right. My time is, but God’s isn’t. And that’s ultimately what matters. And what hurts the most about this whole thing. The growth in the waiting happens when I learn to listen, rather than speak. To listen to and for the still small voice of God, in whatever way it manifests itself.
Transitions are hard; they involve saying goodbye. A whole lot of goodbyes, in fact. And on Friday, I had to say goodbye to a group of people who felt like my “band of brothers,” my comrades, because verily and truly, it felt as though we had been to the front together. To be crude, working in a cardiac ICU, working with the sickest of the sick – patients who are on the last line mechanical ventilatory supports (both old and young) – brings people together in a way that I would imagine only soldiers who have fought in battle might understand. But, as my dearest Sikh supervisor said to me as we tearfully parted ways back in February, there are never goodbyes, only hello hellos. This doesn’t, however, deafen and dull the initial shock of the separation and transition.
But God is there…a voice in the wilderness, to lean on, just as I have been the one for others to lean on all these months. Perhaps it is time for a role reversal, however hard that is to face, fathom and stomach for this type-A personality, for this doer, helper, covenant-former and community-creator. Who knows all that God has in store for this liminal time, but I can begin by showing my gratitude for the weeping sky, the first sign of transition, change and ultimately, forward progress, rather than stasis.
And in the meantime, I’ll be here. Watching and waiting, hoping and praying. And working on patience. Watching the sky weep. Waiting for the sun to shine again.