Sunday, August 25, 2013


Collaging. If you know me at all, you know that this is something that I loooove to do.  I've probably mooched some magazines off of you at some point in time (and if I haven't, feel like sending some old magazines to Berkeley?? I'd totally take them! Or better yet, come visit me and bring them!).

Collaging is fun because it essentially is organizing pieces of paper together to make something new.  I oh so enjoy organization.  I also love finding ways to creatively put things together; I like to think that I am able to capture feelings in my collages.  I especially like to collage for my friends because then I get to attempt to capture their personality (try combining a teenage-like dirty humor and extreme thoughtfulness/melancholy on an 8x10 piece of paper....yea my brother is hard to pin down).  I've made some collages that I've been really proud of and some that I cringe at; some take over three hours while others take fifteen minutes.  But mostly I enjoy doing it because it's cathartic and helps me get through the every day stresses.

I was talking with a lovely, talented artist friend (shout out to Celestie!) and she urged me to post my collages.  Truth is, I don't consider them art pieces because they seem simplistic to me (I mean, I've had four year olds make collages at church camp and they were pretty damn good at it).  But that's my own limitation and judgement talking; collaging is one of my mediums as an artist.  Because I am an artist. (Maybe if I say it enough times I'll believe it....)

The first page of my journal



Being chic

The Long Wait

I love Ohio pt. 1

I love Ohio pt. 2

My Theology board

My Theology pt. 1 close up

My Theology pt. 2 close up

California Love pt. 1

California love pt. 2

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Cannot See

I Cannot See

I cannot see my eyes,
Yet I know what they behold;
I cannot see my ears,
Yet I am not deaf to the music
of the spheres;
I cannot se my heart,
Yet I know when it has touched another;
To understand is not necessary
When one has mastered the beauty
of the unseen.

-Donna Rogers

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Turns out cancer jokes are funny.

When I was in high school, I worked at a local coffeeshop called Deja Vu.  One of my co-workers wore a button that loudly stated "CANCER SUCKS." We would talk about it and how there seems to be no one who is thinking, "Yea, cancer has redeemable qualities!"  Cancer is seen as this big huge blob of unknown that seems to eat away at the people we love.  Cancer feels foreign and evil and ubiquitous.

But really, what is cancer? It's cells in our bodies that continue to replicate and can't stop.  Each of these cells are our own and are not foreign to our body.  It's a process that occurs naturally and yet it is so unnatural because the cells are unable to stop replicating.  These cells somehow become this huge cloud of worry and fear; the fear seems almost as destructive as the cancer itself.

This summer, my father had his thyroid taken out because there were cancerous cells in it.  My dad says this summer has been like being initiated into a club that he never wanted to be a part of; part of my life story now includes my papa being diagnosed with cancer.  The label of cancer seems to loom over bigger than it needs to; it was particularly hard to give support to people that were dealing with a cancer diagnosis while in CPE because I had my dad's story on my tongue.

For me, there has been a shift in seeing cancer as this dangerous, deadly monster to see it as something that people are living with.  Life continues on; a new sense of normalcy begins to emerge as the storm of diagnosis settles down.  It's been helpful to be back here in Colorado for a bit to experience the life post-diagnosis for my parents.  As it turns out, cancer jokes are hilarious.  It's much easier to belly laugh about it than wring my hands and shout out frustrations.

Does cancer suck? Yes, it totally does.  It includes a shift in lifestyle, adds plenty of medical bills, and forces in new perspectives about the world and our bodies.  I'm still soaking it in and I think my whole family is.  All I know is that I'm glad to be able to laugh about it with my dad and enjoy some moments with my parents this week. Love you Papa and Mama!

There is a beauty in all God touches.

This summer of spending my days and some nights at Nationwide Children's Hospital has come to an end. A lot of people told me what this summer of clinical pastoral education would be like: draining, breaking, and full of moments where I was in conflict or unsure of what to do.

All of that happened. But every moment holds an undercurrent of affirmation for me.

When you watch parents cry over their child's body or be with a mother as she wrings her hands in worry about her son in surgery, you see it. The love. It's heavy in the air and it doesn't dissipate; the love in the grief and worry is strong. It doesn't make the emotions easier to deal with; in fact, love makes the pain worse.

Love carries people to the ugliest moments, to the places where there is not enough anger in the world to blind the pain. Love stirs up our vulnerabilities and leave us feeling ragged, torn, and exhausted. But love does not leave us weak; we are strong in our compassion and reaching out to the other to adore, argue with, tease, worry for, and hug them. This summer I have seen this love between patients and their families as well as seen how emotionally and spiritually hungry people are when they have not experienced love in their close relationships.  Humans have the ability to take a pure love and mangle it into something that is unrecognizable.  Having seen the pain of this summer,  I treasure the love I have with my family and friends and look forward to people that will be very important to me throughout my life.  I am affirmed in how vital it is to continue working on how I express my love for others and my role in mangling the love I've received and give out to the world.

My eyes have seen things that made me cringe and my ears have heard cries of grief and worry.  It has been a heavy summer of feeling lonely and overthinking situations, while it has also been a light summer of connecting with friends/family and exploring beloved as well as new parts of Columbus.

What have I learned from this summer of CPE?  There are so many things that I cannot even begin to cover it all, but here are the things that stand out currently.
1.  Everyone is searching for a sense of normal.  There is nothing more bitter than perceiving that you are different than others or being pushed into a traumatic/shocking situation that gets out of your typical life.  But what is normal?  It's at completely different levels for any given person.
2.  Emotions trump situations.  I've spoken with parents waiting to for their child to get through a 10-hour brain surgery that were feeling quite calm. I've been with a crying parent while they waited for their child to get through a 10-minute ear surgery.  It doesn't matter what they are going through but rather how they are handling their emotions and the state that they are in.
3.  The little things count.  Hospitality is one of the skills that I most treasure; people will not be thinking about their tired feet or parched throat when they are watching a loved one poked by 10 doctors.  It's my job to anticipate how they feel and any little things I can get for them.  Just as important are the simple conversations that establish some normalcy; I've spoken about One Direction, hair cuts, Game of Thrones, traffic, gardening, and etc. for hours because people needed a little time to rest their worried heart.
4. A chaplain's job is to feel clueless.  I don't need to know any medical details to be present for people.  I don't need to know what a person does or any past history in order to reflect back their present emotions.  The stories pour out on their own and the details are a treasure that I receive by staying in the present for the person I am with.
5. I am supposed to be doing this.  Does chaplaincy terrify me? Yes, every day I quiver in fear because this job has little certainty.  I do it for the moments when someone opens up about a past trauma or lets their tears spill out.  I do it for the moments of connection (especially when patients or family members tell me I look like Emma Watson--what up!), even when the conversation is as simple as how it was raining that day.  I get empathy, I understand emotions, I am filled with exhaustion and joy when I am a chaplain.  I wear that label like a badge of honor.  Is chaplaincy the only thing I will do as a spiritual leader? No; I will wear the pastor badge and someday I am going to be a CPE supervisor. I have a lot of time do all of this and I am dreading and looking forward to all of those moments.

I left Ohio two days ago; I spent half of the summer wishing that I was back in Berkeley and my heart was aching for the Bay Area culture.  Yet I left the MidWest with a heavy heart and feeling how odd it is that I don't know the next time I will be back.  I hear one of my fellow CPE-ers in my ear, who told me over and over these past weeks, "Transfer! Transfer! Transfer!"  I'm thinking of how precious the Short North, Innis Woods, Hocking Hills, Bexley, and German Village are to me.  I'm remembering the late nights out with friends and hikes with my aunt.  This summer has been a bittersweet one, with the pain and joy of the unknowns that come with being in my mid-20's.  One of my friends told me that there is a beauty in all that God touches; there is a beauty in the grief of this summer.  I have fingerprints of God all over my skin and I take the people I've met this summer in my heart as I continue back to Berkeley.

Affirmed and Striving.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A little E and D.

The countdown has begun and the end seems so close.  I feel it in my fingers; I feel it in my toes (No, Christmas is not all around but I couldn't resist quoting one of my favorite movies).

What do I feel? CPE is a constant beratement of that question.  I've gotten pretty good at being honest with myself  and hazarding a guess at the feelings that are coursing through my body at any given time.

The feeling right now? Excitement and Dread.  E and D.

1. No more verbatims! (It's surprisingly quite difficult to retain and write down conversations that I've had with patients/family members at the hospital).
2. I can't wait to visit with my family and friends in Colorado! It will be especially great to spend time with my parents, whom I have been particularly wishing I could be with.  They have both been through a lot this past month, since my father had surgery to remove cancer that was localized to his thyroid. Looking forward to mountain adventures, sitting out on the deck, thrifting with my mom, and nights out in Old Town.
3. I GET TO GO HOME. Berkeley feels like a bright little piece of my heart that is longing for me.  Maybe it doesn't actually miss me, but I certainly miss it.  It will only be my home for two more years and I intend on savoring every last minute of that time.
4. I have recognized quite a few gifts within myself this summer and I am thrilled to discover the ways that what I have learned will transform my experience as a seminarian in class.

1. Finishing CPE means that I have to work on and finish my endorsement essay for candidacy. BIG DEAL=bundle of nerves.
2. I have loved getting to know the staff at Nationwide Children's and part of me will be left in that hospital as I leave.  I have been touched by the huge hearts of the patients, family members, nurses, doctors, and support staff.  What a wonderful place to be and it is hard to leave.
3. This summer has really affirmed my calling to be a leader in ministry, whether that means being a chaplain, a pastor, a CPE supervisor, etc.  I feel grounded and secure in the path of seminary.  Yet I remember quite clearly the feeling of being lost last spring.  Being in class fogged up the connection between my head and heart.  I dread that I will forget the calling that I feel so deep in my soul; the calling that brought me to PLTS in the first place.  I want to find a balance in the action of helping others and learning the theology and doctrine so that I am most equipped to be a spiritual leader.

I hold the E and the D dearly as I prepare my heart and head to continue on to the next part of this journey.  What a transition this will be; PLTS is going to be a brand new community.  I am forever changed by this summer.  I will leave here armed with confidence in my voice and perspective, knowledge of my judgements and growing edges, and empathy that goes beyond my understanding.

Now to keep focused in present as I have 7 more days to talk with people on my units, 2 more on calls, 1 verbatim, 1 theological reflection, and a few evaluations to get through.  Whew. Oh, and be immersed in an abundant social life here in Columbus. And.....GO!