As many of you know, last December I went back to work after being home with my son for over a year. Before becoming a mother I had been training and working as a hospital chaplain in Boston. Since Gideon has been born, Ben and I moved our family up to Vermont with the long-term hope of me finding work at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). By the grace of God, my dream job at DHMC opened up and after an application process, the job was offered to me. Since December 18th I've been working as the interfaith staff chaplain of the Jack Bryne Center for Hospice & Palliative Care which is an inpatient unit of the larger DHMC complex.
I started this Online Programmed Meeting for Worship during that year that I was home with my son. As a weekly discipline, worshiping and writing these posts has connected me to the wider Quaker community and the wider ecumenical Christian community. This worship has given me a chance to explore contemplative practices and dive into Quaker history, social justice theology, and the application of scripture to our current time. I love putting together and writing these posts and I love being in worship with all of you.
Since going back to work full time though, I've struggled every week getting my posts out. The demands of my job are steadily increasing as our patient numbers and our death numbers increase. My work is split between patient and family support, creating and running a bereavement program, and staff support—not to mention all the other meetings that I get pulled into. It is work that I love, work that feeds me and uses my skills and gifts, and work that takes considerable emotional and spiritual energy every single day.
In addition to my job, my family responsibilities are steadily increasing. Gideon is now 15 months old. He is running around and beginning to talk. He goes to daycare while I'm at work and in the last three weeks has come down with four illnesses (two of which Ben and I have gotten too). He has his first set of molars coming in and our days are spent between ecstatic play and barely consolable tears. Attending worship on Sundays has become challenging since Gideon has full-fledged separation anxiety. Ben and I are doing our best to keep up with our little guy, however being a parent—unsurprisingly—also takes a considerable amount of emotional and spiritual energy.
So as yet another week comes around and all my intentions of writing and publishing a weekly worship post fly out the window, I'm left again this week wondering what God has in mind for me. This week, on Wednesday, I gave out ashes to staff and patients for Ash Wednesday. I found it particularly striking to pray about "considering our mortality and penitence" while working in End of Life Care. I want to sit with those thoughts and find God among the moments, but this week I didn't have time. Another example of this: the scripture this week talks about covenant and baptism, and the Quaker meetings that I'm part of are deep in discussion about membership. I wanted to sit in worship and hear God speak about these topics, but amongst the patients and the meetings, the diaper changes, the middle of the night tears, and the chaos of my house, again I didn't have time.
So here I am, my confessions laid out for you all. In summary it has become clear to me that I need time to balance my life, discern the future of this worship project, and seek God's voice in my life again. I am blessed with abundance, with loving everything that I'm doing in my life but just not having enough time or energy for it all.
All that said, I've decided that I am going to take the season of Lent off from writing these worship posts. During this time, please hold me in prayer as I work with my community, with my family, and with God to discern how the pieces of my ministry and my life fit together best to steward God's will for me. Regarding the Online Programmed Meeting for Worship, the main questions I will be asking are:
- Should I lay down this project and stop publishing weekly worship posts?
- If I discern to lay down this project, how is God continuing to call me into pastoral ministry?
- Should I continue this project and continue publishing weekly worship posts?
- And if I do discern to continue this project, am I led to offer a weekly "live" worship time?
While I'm doing this discernment and taking this Lenten Sabbath, I encourage you to find a Lenten devotional that will support your journey and that will support the things that you are discerning. There are lots of devotionals out there—simple ones, complex ones, social justice oriented ones, art and music focused ones—the list goes on. If you'd like suggestions, please write to me and I'll send some along. Just let me know what you are looking for.
And while I'll be in discernment about this worship, I'll also be holding you all in prayer as we see what God has in store for each of us in the Eastertide. Your voices, your hearts, and your worship needs are important to me too. So while no decision will come as a result of the polls below, I'd love to know your thoughts on continuing this worship project and how we might grow it together if it were to continue.
Love and blessings to you all,