Read this first, dated July 27th, 2014.
When I was growing up, my dad had a big sign on the wall of his ceramics studio:
IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT IF YOU’RE AN ANGEL, YOU MUST GO TO THE ABRUPT EDGE AND LEAP.
As a boy and a young man I didn’t give the sign much thought, saw it as a little corny actually. That may have been because I spent so much time in those years living at the abrupt edge. It was a place so familiar to me that I don’t think I was even able to understand the nature of my situation. If you live at risk all the time, is it really risk? Or is it just your life?
But now I am 50, and at 50 I have earned the right to say I am middle-aged, and now I have things to lose, to protect–a loving partner, a beautiful daughter, a level of economic and social safety, a daily life that has a certain clock-like repetition to it, painting the yellow lines down the middle of a highway that gets closer and closer to its destination and becomes harder and harder to exit from, to visit an unknown town, to meander down a dirt side road.
So that’s what I’m doing–carefully, gently–I am making a lateral move to be a hospice chaplain. I’m aiming for 2017.
If you read the link above (I really do recommend you read it first), and follow it up by wandering about in the semi-secret writings I’ve been doing for the last six months, you’ll get an idea of what’s going on. I had a lot of death in my life early, and I’ve realized that working with people and their families this way, I can do a kind of alchemy, turn that pain into something useful. You’ll see that some things have changed since that early post–I made it to 50! My daughter’s 13 now! I haven’t gotten into a Clinical Pastoral Education program yet!–but the basic spirit is still the same. I’ve also, after being a hanger-on for years, finally joined the local synagogue, I have started seeing clients as a hospice volunteer, I’ve done a vision quest with Rites of Passage and have started guide training. And I continue to work with nonprofits as a writer, advisor and fundraiser.
And I’ve moved this blog along, and am now making it public, a place to think out loud on this process, on death, and on life. A change like this is a little bit like a pregnancy, in that I wanted to wait a while to say it out loud, make sure things were advancing well, everything felt healthy. And I’m pleased to say it does. Rachel, my partner, and our daughter Esmé, are being very supportive of what currently is just Dad wearing one more hat, one more project that takes a lot of time. I’m grateful to have a family that’s willing to come to this place of the abrupt edge with me, and take this risk. I have no doubt that they are angels, and I hope to find out if I am one as well.
If you have questions or thoughts, people I have to talk to, risks I have to consider, or technical suggestions on this blog, drop me a line through whatever contact you have for me, or at adamATbeginningmiddleend.works.