I had forgotten how stressful “positive transitions” or changes can be in our lives. Even when a change is good, the journey from the familiar to the unknown is unsettling to say the least. My present job has lasted fifteen and a half years and it has been half of my thirty year career. And yet I hesitate even to say that this is transition is difficult.
If only everyone could be as fortunate. People like John and Bill and Laura are just a few of my friends or acquaintances who are looking for jobs right now because they don’t have one. Others are unhappy with the job they do have, or others have been laid off from a job, or still others have just graduated from school and are looking for a job.
Any one of them would LOVE to have this problem of a “job transition.”
So on the Richter Scale of life transitions from 1-10, getting a job that you wanted when you already have a great job shouldn’t be that hard, right? Not exactly.
Whether I “should” feel this way or not, I feel a wide range of feelings. They are all good, even the sad feelings.
Yesterday I was aware of the lump in my throat that just stayed there as I met with a patient who was on death’s door two years ago but today is a picture of health and is getting married next month. His mother brought a camera to the clinic to take our picture together. Hope abounds.
A few minutes later excitement swirled in my head with new ideas for my future job as I talked with a friend who is a Director of Pastoral Care in another state, and I could feel the energy of anticipation flowing through my body again.
Later in the same day, a deep insecurity whispered deep in my soul and said, “What in the heck are you doing taking this new job? You don’t know anything.” And seeds of self-doubt tried to find fertile soil. Mary listened to my confusion after dinner and reassured me that I would be fine in my new work. “I believe in you,” she said. And I believed her when she said I would be ok.
The main reason for observing this metamorphosis that is happening within me is because I believe it is one of the keys to getting through it healthily.
If I ignore the feelings of grief in leaving my colleague Kelly Ross-Davis, who has worked with me the last 14 years and is now Director of Education at the clinic, I will not honor how much we have been through together.
Kelly was there when I was going through my divorce and listened to my struggle over many months and never complained of my self-absorption. And when her daughter Rachel was born, I was one of the first to get to hold her in the hospital and later developed a Support Team for Kelly’s family when complications developed for a few months. She attended my father’s out-of-town funeral with several other colleagues. I appreciated her planning and leading over a dozen annual Heartsong Retreats with me, and hundreds of hours in meetings planning Support Team trainings.
When you share your life and work with others so closely for so long, it is a good thing to feel this sadness. Kelly’s presence has made an enormous difference in my life. Thank you Kelly.
Today, instead of gulping down my lunch, I sat and reminisced and laughed with three of our social workers, Crystal, Wes, and Kathy. I have known Wes and Kathy since 1994. Over the years it was sometimes hard to know who among us were the social workers and who was the chaplain as our work intertwined in so many intricate ways. I remember the day when Wes adopted his son, Sam, and brought him to the clinic for all of us to hold when he was only a few days old. And now Sam is one of the most talented dancers for his age group in the nation.
What I am trying to say is working at The 1917 Clinic has not been only about caring for persons who are HIV positive, but also how the staff has shared our lives with one another. The baptisms and weddings and bar mitzvahs and funerals that I have attended or led related to the staff are too numerous to count.
I will miss being at the clinic. But I wouldn’t change the decision I made to leave the church I loved in Connecticut to come here for anything in the world.
And so now, a new chapter is being written in my life. And I am thankful to have this new opportunity to be The Director of Pastoral Care at the hospital. I will be leaving the clinic in a couple of weeks with a thankful heart.
I wonder what new adventures are ahead?
With a grateful heart for what has been, and what will be.