Well a funny thing happened in my life.  I am not certain what to make of it.  Neither am I certain what to do with it.  So right now I am just sitting with it.  On March 23, I began a program called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) with a local hospital.  This can lead to certification as a chaplain, pastoral counselor, or even psychotherapist should I finish all the requirements for four units (eight for certification in psychotherapy).  I started the application process late November and was accepted the end of December.  This has certainly put a crimp in my free flowing lifestyle.  I now have structure and stress in my life.

In my usual manner, I just plunged forward without much planning and a knowing that starting this program would be the end of my unstructured life.  I seem to spend my life following “callings” and then react to the feelings that come up around my actions.  I guess it might not be the best way to do things but this is definitely “my way.”  Now I am two weeks into the program and dealing with a lot of human “stuff” – my human “stuff” – that is coming up around my current experience.  I am seeing that there are many layers to this!

The outermost layer is that of emotion.  I am dealing with fear of being “incompetent” at this, fear of failure.  Well, then, if the duality in my worldview is that of fear or love, I work very hard on countering my fear with connecting with the Loving of God.  This does help but it is sometimes difficult for me to hold onto when I am in the thick of things.  First, there is no formal training or even guidelines as to what direct ministry in the hospital is supposed to look like.  Then, the various chaplains naturally all have their own distinct personalities and ways of doing things and I have received a few mixed messages about what I am supposed to do and where.

The third major hands on thing that has been creating fear for me is the fact that I had to immediately choose one night per week to be “on call.”   The issues that come up for me around being on call and responsible, again with not much guidance or training but a few instructions that I have no frame of reference for, is probably the biggest hurdle for me right now.  It might even be the one that seems like a “deal breaker.”   This issue in itself has a few layers – in addition to the competence vs. fear of being incompetent piece, I also have touched on issues of whether or not I have the energy to be woken up possibly in the middle of the night, deal with a spiritual crisis, go home, then possibly get called again.  Thank goodness for back up chaplains!

Once I am able to shift into the place of God’s Loving and deal with my fears, I find there are practical issues that are arising.  The biggest one is how to fit in the clinical requirements and fulfill my learning contract which is to learn about three fundamental faiths.  I agreed to attend services, meet with religious leaders, read about the three faiths, and write a three to five page paper.  This is a full time “job” and I have been living the life of a retired person since December 2007.  I miss my freedom and flexible life.

As I have been looking beyond the issues on the outer layer, I have been connecting with some of the deeper issues.  For the past several months, I have been aware of my longing to not be “in the world.”  Ever since the veil between my human self and my spiritual self was shattered last summer, I find myself drawn much more inward and upward as opposed to outward.  This path I am walking right now is forcing me back out into the world.  I want to be inside, communing with Spirit and because I am being drawn away from that place, my Spiritual equilibrium seems to be seriously affected.  It feels as though the ground is being moved out from under my feet.  I am losing the balance I have enjoyed so much being able to know God and be in God’s presence.

Now, I know that God has not gone anywhere.  I also know the veil has not reformed or reconfigured itself and separated me from my spiritual self.  That is an illusion.  Just as my fear in the more superficial aspect of this conundrum is an illusion.  God is constant.  My connection to God is static.   In this all there is a spiritual lesson to be learned and a spiritual truth to be discerned.  My challenge is not really anything about CPE training.  My challenge is about defining my Spiritual Truth.