This afternoon I was approved for ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). (Yes, I know that we have new nomenclature. But we also still have the old. More on that another day.) My ordination is scheduled for October 30 in my home church and my installation for the next Sunday in my new church, where I am supposed to start as pastor this next Sunday, a week from tomorrow.
Those "scheduled" and "supposed" words reflect the reality that nothing is ever remotely as straightforward as it seems. Over the past nine days I have had two mammograms, ultrasound imaging, a biopsy that worked, and a biopsy that didn't. Now I await the scheduling of the surgical biopsy to replace the one that the radiologists and technician simply could not get done, despite a herculean three-hour effort. And then, I wait some more.
One of the things that has become profoundly apparent to me in the past few months has been how present God has been to me since Josh's death ~ through other people. Not that I noticed, not for a long time. But now, having recovered some degree of consciousness, I see what I missed. So as I headed to the Breast Center for the third time in eight days, I prayed that I would be aware of the people around me.
Before we started the procedure, I pulled out the stole that I had just received as a gift from my friend Maggie (she made it!), put it on over my hospital top, explained my circumstances, and offered a blessing for the room as a place of healing and for all the women in it ~ radiologists, technician, nurse, and me. In the end, the room and its technology left a great deal to be desired, but the women were great.
And then as the afternoon wore on and became six hours long, I developed quite an amazing relationship with the nurse assigned as my companion and source of information and comfort. She lost a brother to suicide a decade ago. And her counterpart at another of the hospital's breast imaging facilities is the mother of a young man who died of suicide a year after Josh did, at the college at which I teach. I didn't know him or his family, but I had known and experienced a great deal of anguish over his story. We had a number of other connections as well . . . and, how exactly do I know all this? I have no idea. But it was quite an extraordinary afternoon of conversation, interrupted by the endless frustrations and discomforts of the business at hand.
The Lovely Daughter, who went with me, reported as follows: "That was a really long day. But Mom made a whole new group of friends!"
I am really excited, very quietly, about my ordination. After the Presbytery meeting today, I told the folks from my new church about my news, news all of 22 hours old. They could not have been more supportive, so whatever happens, I guess we're in it together.
Not exactly the beginning I had imagined. But then, what has been, these past three years?
Image credited here.