Finding Hope

The earrings shown below were a gift to me about 15 years ago. Working as a hospital chaplain, I wore them often. In my mind they were the physical reality of what I hoped I was able to help patients (re)discover.

In a hospital there are a lot of stressed out people. Overworked staff, anxious families, people in crisis and/or pain. I wanted to be the embodiment of a merciful higher power when I went into a room.

At first, going into a room reminded me of trying to sell something to a stranger. Or it felt like what I  most probably naively imagine an investment counselor. I imagined my nervous self that first year of my clinical pastoral education (a seminary requirement; for the curious see here.)   as trying to sell someone on God, or perhaps the comfort of a higher power that had a plan for us. I fell in love with chaplaincy and stayed.  Patients were inspirational, their families were too. The stories I heard startled me, piqued my curiosity, amazed me, turned me toward God in a way that I had not experienced.  I learned that sometimes the best comfort I brought was hope. Hope that things would get better. Hope in the form of a temporary respite from pain, sometimes in the form of hearing and affirming a person. Sometimes in helping someone work a crossword puzzle. Sometimes in just being silent when words weren’t enough.

Sometimes it was in just holding a hand and understanding that this was comfort enough. Being present, showing up, offering to hold a cup to lips that were parched. Holding a hand while a patient was being wheeled to surgery.  Sitting with nervous families as they waited for test results.  Sometimes sitting with families and offering a prayer around a dying person as we shared our thanks for the work they had done, the love they shared, sobbing and often times laughing as we held their spirit close to us with each rattling death breath.

These earrings became an extension of my desire to bring hope to those I served. Until one day, several years after I left hospital work and served in another place as a pastoral counselor. Until I came home one evening and realized that one had gone missing. This was in 2010. I couldn’t bear to part with the remaining one. Hanging on a wooden earring rack, I took it off every now and then to polish the tarnish away.

Three weeks ago while at the counseling office I opened the drawer of the desk I use one day a week. Shutting the drawer for a moment out of surprise I gasped and opened it again. It was still there. Not a dream. Hope when I needed it most. Hope because I had almost lost all of mine. 2016 has repeatedly kicked who I am, what I do, and what I believe to the curb. Rearranging my life and tossing out things I did not know were trash.  Making way for whatever wonderful new thing is coming.

I hear it again and again. Loss and pain, overwhelming and staggering. Not only in my life, but on the news, in the lives of my clients.  There seems to be this repeating theme of a cosmic garage sale that is not making much sense.

I’d all but given up on hope and then there it was. Staring at me. Daring me to pick it up. My own glass slipper come home. Inviting me to bring hope to others. Encouraging me to hold on to it a bit, too.

If you are wandering on a path without much hope please find some here. Wherever life is bleak, take time for the comfort of a friend to cheer you When you least expect it, something good may show up along the way. Life is movement. Beloved families are made and changed every day. If you are lost, you are not alone. There are many of us on the same path, wandering at times seemingly without direction. If you are in need of hope, I hope it finds you. Maybe when you need it most it will show up.




Divine in with me

I have this wonderful new oracle deck I’ve been trying to understand. It is the Earthbound Oracle. You can find it here.

Born introverted, I’m trying to dive into the outer world of divination so that I can share my understandings of this deck, (and perhaps others) as well as to gather what others observe and understand in order to expand my own thoughts.

Unlike other many other oracles, the deck’s creator, A.L. Swartz has left the interpretation of this beautiful deck to the user.- By the way, the italics in the artist’s last name are mine. I think A.L. was born to create.

Here is a reading that I did this week.  IMG_3240

The cards appeared as achievement, luck and then wealth. Because this deck has messages for me to interpret without assistance, which I rather like, I’ve been taken with just reading the cards as they appear without a particular question or spread in mind. So, achievement is the first card I drew. Does it mean I am done with achieving a job?

At first thought, to me  it is likely as I feel I am nearing an end of my current professional life. I’ve been caring for others in an established institutional environment. I have lived a wonderful and mostly quiet life. I am content in caring for others and assisting them. But, more and more the values of this particular institution do not fit with my spirit or soul.  So why not just up and leave everything connected with this profession?  I believe I have been grieving the leaving and am still uncertain about which way my career will go. So, achievement was a bit startling to me. Am I done achieving ? Are there more or no more mountains to climb? Is it the mountain I am on? One where it feels as if there is no life and no air?

Could there still be more to achieve? Where? Doing what?

Then along came luck.So someone will be helping me, whether a person, being in the right place, or connecting with a spiritual guide who knows? Or could the luck be unfortunate?  It seems it is for the rabbit. All three cards have purple in them.  Purple is a color of transformation and royalty, (the latter of which I am not.) In two of the cards there are what I believe to be amethyst. This can mean any number of things such as promoting calm, balance and peace.  It is used for meditation, healing and it comes from the Greek word ametusthos meaning “not intoxicated.”

So, does it mean that luck will come if I can attain a fairly consistent sense of calm and be patient? If I don’t get intoxicated? Or will the luck be so intoxicating as to set me off on a wonderful new vocation? Last card I see is wealth. That would be a welcome relief as I left my main source of employment this winter. Or does this card mean that I will attain wealth if I find the things worth more than money?  Turning  off my brain now, I do find a wealth of purple and love the color.  I also have a lovely amethyst stone that I think I’ll keep in a less obscure place. And I am wealthy in the ways of family, a few good friends, a lovely home and mostly good health. Perhaps I need to focus on that.