Monday, November 25, 2013

It's a Long Story . . . Part One

A long story that begins back in 1986, I think. I had seen a small blurb in the church bulletin that the local hospital was seeking volunteers to be trained to work in the pastoral care department. I had no idea what this would mean, but Something told me to look into it. I met with a fearsome woman, one Sister Angela, who was second-in-command in the Pastoral Care Department. At one point she asked, "Why are you here?" "Either God is involved with this or I'm totally losing my mind," I told her, thinking I should head for the door voluntarily before she threw me out. "Well, I think you have a lot to offer," she replied, "and training begins in two weeks."

I worked as a pastoral care volunteer two mornings each week, and found it to be so rewarding. After about a year, things in my life changed, and I was no longer free during the day because I had taken a full-time job. I found that I missed the hospital work tremendously, and phoned Sister Angela to see if what she thought. What she thought was that I'd had enough experience on the job that she'd like me to come in on Friday nights from six until ten and carry the beeper so that the on-call chaplain could be relieved for a bit. I did that for two years.

It was during those nights when I was the only active pastoral care person in the hospital, responding to Codes, Traumas, and deaths, that I came to believe that this work was what I was called to do.

I looked into it. To get a job as a hospital chaplain, a person had to have a seminary degree, denominational endorsement, and four units of clinical pastoral education. I was woefully underqualified, not having had more than a single semester's worth of college, all told. But the idea never went away. I spoke with my pastor who said it certainly sounded to him as though I was being called to do this, and suggested I not look at all that was ahead but simply to begin to work towards an Associate degree. So in 1989, I left my full-time job, returned to at-home medical transcription, and began degree programs through an unusual model for adults returning to college at Thomas Edison University. I earned a B.A. in two and a half years.

The letter accepting my application to seminary came the day of my 30th high school reunion.




7 comments:

Janet O. said...

Well, you have my attention. Can't wait for Part Two!

LizA. said...

We have a friend who does ths type of pastoral care in the tri-cities area of Washington. She too, has a four year degree but no seminary. She took a year long intensive course which she started around age 50....tri-cities is small enough that they can't afford a seminary trained chaplain yet large enough for this need. She is one of 3-4 on staff and truly enjoys the work and is very good at it.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I love it when you share your stories . . . eager to read the next installment!

Tanya said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more of your story.

Karla said...

Nancy, I am so excited to hear your story!

Barbara Anne said...

Riveting! I cannot wait to read what happened next.

I remember when DH was in seminary that it was said that being called is the first step, being willing is the only other step. Sounds like you met those qualifications perfectly.

Hugs!

Paula, the quilter said...

Don't make us wait too long for the rest.