Beginning seminary marks the next stage of my commitment to a vocational path of interfaith chaplaincy. And like all commitments, even those chosen from a well thought-out and reasoned place, what I’ve actually signed up for continues to surprise me. A lot of people have asked me what it means to be an interfaith chaplain, and my response varies: most simply, it involves a lot of listening, and witnessing. And the deep, sobering challenges of the work continue to be revealed, in the hospital and now in the classroom.
But living in the residency brings a real sense of joy to this commitment. The other residents - funny, lively women with vivid stories and vastly different perspectives on the world - make the nuances of interfaith engagement so funny and sweet.
As we begin this year together, I have many questions. What are our aims for engaging this work together? Are we seeking a place where - sturdy in our own beliefs and convictions - we honor the tender and intricate worlds of one another? Or do we open ourselves to the possibility of other modes of being, allowing our foundations to be shaken? Will we even have a choice?
While my questions continue to grow and change, I am in the meantime just loving to come home. I love coming home to women in the kitchen, reflecting on life in New York over warm boorsok and yogurt; to hearing about a trip to Pittsburg and celebration of Eid over Turkish coffee. I love the passion everyone brings to sharing their experiences, and the warmth and candor with which they listen and challenge me on my own.
So I end this beginning post with a sense of gratitude for my fellow residents, and my favorite poem by Hafiz:
A hard decree
Last night God posted on the tavern wall a hard decree for all of love’s inmates which read:
If your heart cannot find a joyful work, then the jaws of this world will probably grab hold of your - sweet ass.