Life’s been weird.
For instance, I’ve been employed only in job searching since the end of February. You’d think that would make for lots of blog posting, but no. I, like many people – I presume – always had along list of things to do on a rainy day when I ‘had time.’ Things like scan pictures into the computer, edit video collected over the years, journal, reflect, sort out my thinking, sort my books, transfer cassette tapes into digital format, write, travel, climb a mountain… you get the picture. But the disorientation and destabilization and uncertainty of my current situation have robbed me of the incentive for doing most of those things. It’s odd.
So here’s the best humorous way of summing up my situation right now: The way it still looks today as I write, at the end of May I will be unemployed and homeless to boot. The most likely solution on my horizon is prison. Yes, I have an application in to be a prison chaplain in the Canadian Federal Corrections System. They were going to start processing the applications on May 12th. I don’t know when I’ll hear if I made any short lists. The application process is huge, in the sense that I had to do paperwork for both the Chaplaincy department of my denomination (who hold the contract if I am offered a position and so need to decide if they want to support my doing this) and for CSC (Corrections Services Canada’s Chaplain division). If I get offered an interview and am likely to be offered a job, I need to quickly find a church to call me to that ministry near where the prisons are (Matsqui and Kent).
So I don’t really know if I should move out to Abottsford/Aggassi on a chance I’ll get one of those jobs, or should stay near Vancouver in case one of the other resume’s put out there gets a bite. I’ve applied for everything from “Responsible Gambling Information Officer” to “Staff Writer” to “Employment Services Coordinator” and various others. Anything which seems a good place to put my skills experience and interests to good use. The Chaplaincy still holds the most hope and continuity as it is work in ministry that I believe I’m equipped to do effectively.
I’ve made temporary arrangements to bunk at my son’s house for June, hoping and determined that by the end of that month I’ll have employment that I can use as a geographic base from which to find a place to live.
Now you are just a little more up to date.
In this time I have been rereading the story of Jacob and particularly of Job, as stories of people who’s lives seemed to have collapsed but who found God still with them despite it all, and even had it work out to the greater good in the end. I have also done a lot of thinking about not only what went wrong in general, but what I could have done differently – what I did wrong – in my last charge. It feels and sounds really arrogant to think, say or write, but although there are a few identifiable things, I really still feel I was by-en-large on track with why God called me where I was. So you can then understand how I like to read of Job’s insistence — in the face of so-called friends who insist he MUST have done something to deserve God treating him this way and he better admit it soon or it will continue — how Job declares his basic innocence of wrongdoing. Last night, as God tapped me on the shoulder (figuratively) at 3:30 am and reminded me I had not talked things over in my mind with him listening in for a while, after pondering life for a bit, I read the next piece I was at in Job. It was chapter 23, and these words of Job in response to his insistent advisers reassured me: “But God knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” The next few verses flesh that out more. That phrase brought not only comfort, but memories, memories which weave together and help make sense of things. See, the first sermon I ever wrote as a Seminarian was on 1 Peter 1:6-9 and for it I researched the process of the refining of gold through heating so the impurities could be skimmed off. I don’t at all equate my struggles with those spoken of in 1 Peter, but it is still somehow comforting to know that I am likely in a refining process. Another thing that came to mind – and has often as an accurate yet simple statement of my life – are what my father spoke at my ordination service. He said “There are two words that describe Pete: Testing and Tested” and he went on to describe how I have a need to test everything and because of that I get tested a lot.
Isn’t it amazing how your life-walk can accumulate memories that can cumulatively trigger on a phrase like “But God knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold“?!!!