Sunday, March 29, 2015


I mostly worked nights when I was a hospital nurse - 7pm-7am.  This worked well for me barring the sleep confusion. I liked the quiet. It was just a skeleton crew of staff. I'd get my shift change report and get moving. There was the occasional nurse's report that included something like, "This family is really difficult." These words meant it was going to be a good night. Truly.

When those words were said to me, I added more sentences in my head.  Something to the effect of, "Of course they're difficult, their kid is really sick."  And I knew that at some point in the night, when things were quiet, that the parents and I would end up talking.

I later learned in pastor school about Martin Luther's "dark night of the soul." A middle of the night time filled with despair, anxiety, and fear so thick you taste it. I thought about those parents on my nightshifts. The Germanwings crash seems to have kick-started these memories. As a parent of teenagers, those high school friends who were murdered by plane crash and their parents' grief are haunting. As a Jesus person entering Holy Week, the week before Easter, all that makes sense to me in the face of their deaths is the cross.

For me, the cross isn't so much a way of living as it is a way to describe how I experience life. There are dark nights of the soul and the cross holds the weight of them because it is not falsely optimistic about my own pain or anyone else's. My lack of actual control over much of anything somehow finds space to grieve and to rest. Defiant alleluias will come with Easter. Today I'm letting the cross name the pain.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"How did you make the switch?"

"How did you make that switch from nursing into being a pastor?"  This is a question that I get a lot.  I've answered it twice in the last four days.  Once for a young man I've known for a few years and once for someone I just met yesterday at a party (yup, party talk).

The short answer is that I married a Lutheran.  At the time, I had no idea what 'Lutheran' meant.  Now, of course, I see it for its quiet subversion as one expression of a 2,000 year old story.

A cool part of being asked the question is that I usually get snippets of someone else's story.  The young man who asked it gave me bits of his story as we talked.  Things I wouldn't know otherwise across our almost 20 year age difference.

My bio is elsewhere so I'll spare you the details here (  Suffice it to say for now that having a religious commitment that pushes in on me from the outside is a good thing.  But first, before that push, there was and continues to be space.  Space to acknowledge flaws and fatigue as well as gifts.  Space to wonder, think, and doubt.  Space to know, experience, and learn.  Space to drop into the 2,000 year old story and figure out my part in it.

When I made the switch from nurse to pastor, my brother started calling me a "nurse of the soul."  My own soul needed some serious healing well before that switch was flipped.  Those are stories for a different day.