Comforting Words: 05/2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Country Living

Country life is growing on me.

This is my seventh year living in Canada and I can recall being told many times that small town, rural living would not be for me.

“Everyone will be in your business,” “racism and bigotry is rampant in small town Alberta,” “that kinda life is not for you – it is too quiet, boring, nothing much to do,” were some of the reasons well-meaning people gave me.

As the saying goes, “circumstances alter cases,” that is exactly what happened. The circumstances of my life changed a few years back and with that I was confronted with having to make choices that would not normally be my first preference.

For example, in 2005 the trajectory that I was following would have led to a doctorate and professorial position, teaching and supporting students in Clinical Pastoral Education.

“Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans,” is what John Lennon said and he should know!

The thesis is still incomplete three years later and although there have been some stirrings in me to get back to it; they have not been sufficiently strong to move me towards the memory stick that has the draft.

Hospital wards and surgeries no longer appeal to me in the way they did in 2005/2006. After been almost completely burnt out by too many late night calls to death beds or the morgue, it was not hard to admit that my attitude towards death and dying was not compatible with that of most that I was meeting.

One thing is for sure, at the core of my being I am a Chaplain. However, what Life clarified for me was that ‘call’ can manifest in many shapes and forms.

Nearly two years after following that ‘call’ through the gates of a prison, with a deep sense of knowing that physically I was in the environment that was much more relevant to my personal experiences, professional and personal growth was still somewhat lagging.

You know it is time to move on; at least I do, when going to work in the morning is a chore and a bother, when you are simply doing it for the pay cheque. It is time to move on when the walls of the place you once called home begins to close in on you and feels more like a cell. There was more growing for me to do and impatience was setting in.

Turning points in my experience are usually revealed almost on the deadline. It was less than a week to the closing date when I saw the posting for the job that would lead me the rural Alberta.

Along with the words of encouragement there were words of discouragement. For every person who wished me all the best – both on the competition and when the offer for the job came – there was one who asked me whether I was sure the facility, the job and the small town was for me.

“No, I am not sure,” was basically my response, “but when are we ever?”

Actually, the ‘sure things’ in my life thus far have turned out to be the least certain. And truthfully, my greatest growth has come when I take the proverbial leap of faith and let God be God in my experience.

Three years, almost, after that turning point when “Life happened,” and when my request was to be let off but The Divine said “Hang in there baby, we are going for a ride,” here I am:

Married to my fellow sojourner and wounded healer, enjoying my career and being paid very well to use my faculties to help others with the trajectory of their own lives within the rule of law and drawing on spiritual principles, and co-owner of a beautiful home (almost 3,000 sq. ft) in small town Alberta.

Truth be told, maybe there is not much to do in my little village. Maybe there are some intolerant people among the less than 1,000 who reside in my neck of the woods. It is definitely quiet here - except for the chirping of the birds, the barking of village dogs (and my two chime in gladly) and the occasional tractor or plow chugging down the street on a Saturday morning.

However, we took possession of our home in mid-May and not only am I catching up on time lost commuting to work (from 3-4 hours a day to 1 hour now) but the fresh air, tinged with cow manure (LOL) is doing me a world of good.

As Oprah would say “what I know for sure,” is that it is easy to live with regrets and hard to move on – gently holding the past and hopefully head into the now.

That balancing act is trying still to this day but when it gets too much to handle, now I have my garden to retreat to.

Each day I give thanks, silently or in a song like this one:

Blessings from a small town in Alberta,


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