Beginning. It’s My First Day of Chaplaincy Training.

I11124428_10204313850748461_532205051_nt’s time to wake up.

Sitting in my dark office, cat and computer in my lap, dog asleep on the floor, partner and daughter asleep inside. But the roosters are crowing and the dogs are barking in my neighborhood, and I can feel the pregnant day, beginning.

It’s not really my first day training. I’ve been training my whole life for this day, as we all have. Everything that’s come before in these 51-some years has led up to this–making friends with the weather, praying over a pile of thistles that has been cleared, watching my dad chanting his Gohonzon, meditating and doing yoga on the back porch, visualizing a ball of light rising up his spine as he sprays himself down with a cold water hose after a run, talking with my mom about her atheism, going through her death, and fighting with my sister, going through my granma’s death, going through my friend’s suicide death, listening to the life stories of truckers as we drove all night on the ALCAN Highway, going to synagogue and Torah study for the first time with Jennifer Kaufman, meeting with R. Alan Lew. Hours spent alone writing stories and going to the monastery of a graduate Creative Writing program. The stories and the letters of all the great authors I’ve read. Studying Pagan magic at Tools of Magic with Uma and dancing spirals on Corona Heights. Being office manager at Fort Help Methadone Clinic and all I learned from the counselors, doctors and nurses there. Falling in love and the leap of faith of deciding with my partner to have a child. Going through the birth of my daughter and then having a child, which no matter what I signed up for was more than I expected. Arguing about religion and spirituality with Rachel, Religion V. Reality with Rachel, lighting the Shabbat candles every week for 14 years. Becoming a hospice volunteer. Going to the desert and sitting alone and fasting, then sitting in a circle with others who have and telling our story. Running a business for 12 years and counting, listening to my clients and telling the stories of their highest ideals and how they practically would get there. Life, life, life, a river of life. If I try to hold on to one thing I’ll miss something else.

But this is the first day of training for Chaplaincy that I envisioned a year and a half ago, standing in our backyard as part of a three-legged stool made up of:

  • Training to be a vision quest guide in the Rites-of-Passage tradition
  • Blogging about all of it, because that’s what I am, a story teller
  • Getting certified as an interfaith chaplain, credit in the straight world.

This is the last leg I’m finally starting to put in place. Rarely have I been so forward-thinking and methodical in my life, and rarely have I committed such method to something so amorphous, a series of acts that so embodied the sign on the wall of my dad’s studio wall:

If you want to find out if you’re an angel, you must go to the abrupt edge and leap.

Am I nervous? Yes, like the first day of school. Is this right? Will people like me? What’s going to happen that I never even took into account before? Will it be an uncomfortable strain on my family, me driving to San Francisco three days a week? Am I a fool for doing this.

All my traditions come into play:

I look out the window and see a moon that’s waning, almost full, and I wish that this had started when it was waxing, better luck to start at a time of growth.

It’s almost the High Holidays, the Jewish New Year, and this is a great time to begin anew.

I’m walking away from my family, my bag over my shoulder and going into the mystery. What will I find this time out there? In here?

It’s time to finish this, go in and take a shower, eat, dress in my “professional attire,” walk the dog, then get in the car and do the road warrior thing down 101 to SF. I’ve asked you all to wish me luck before. They say that luck is Pagan, Grace is Christian, and luck is a gift of fate, grace is a gift of G_D. Today I ask for Grace.

If it’s your way, say a quick prayer for me. Or if it’s your tradition, wish me well. Thanks.


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