Thoughts from the Via Dolorosa

In 2007, I spent two weeks in Israel and Egypt as part of a group from my divinity school. It was the trip of a lifetime, one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever received. Being there, seeing the places where so many stories I’d read in the Bible actually happened, was overwhelming. Sometimes I go back and read my journal from that trip. I filled almost the entire book in those two weeks. During Holy Week, my mind takes me back to the places Jesus walked, where I got to walk, too. I shared my experience of the Garden of Gethsemane two years ago. On this Good Friday, I’ve been re-reading some of what I wrote after walking the Via Dolorosa:

via dolorosa 1 Continue reading “Thoughts from the Via Dolorosa”

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Living in Imaginary Worlds

Recently I discovered and fell in love with a podcast called Imaginary Worlds. Host Eric Molinsky explores many of the fictional worlds we know from pop culture, but often with a unique and very intelligent spin. It was his five-part series on Star Wars that hooked me (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my lifelong devotion to that franchise), and made me think about the movies and expanded universe in new ways. In one episode, historians and Star Wars scholars discussed the cultural/political factors in 1977 that led to the original movie becoming such a phenomenon. Subsequent episodes delved into the “Han shot first” controversy from an ethical standpoint, asked whether the Empire saw itself as evil or was taking what it saw as reasonable steps to bring order to a chaotic galaxy, featured a rabbi who compared the Star Wars expanded universe to the rabbinic commentary on the Torah called midrash, and debated whether “Slave Leia” could be seen as a symbol of female empowerment or was a misogynistic wrong turn in the character’s journey best left forgotten. I listened to those episodes multiple times, then went back and listened to every episode since the podcast began in 2014. It got me thinking about how much of my time is spent in imaginary worlds, not just when I lose myself in fiction, but when I do my job as a chaplain. Continue reading “Living in Imaginary Worlds”

Why You’ll Never Hear Me Say “God Doesn’t Give Us More Than We Can Handle”

I was sitting at the bedside of a tearful patient, a woman hospitalized with pain and bleeding after her fifth consecutive miscarriage.  A few hours after she checked in, she got a phone call from a family member telling her that her youngest sister had been killed in a car crash.  Her nurse asked me to visit her that evening, and so I sat, holding her hand, telling her how sorry I was.  Then she said it.  “I know they say God won’t put on us any more than we can handle, but I . . . I just . . .”  She fell back against the bed, sobbing too hard to speak.

“But it feels like more than you can handle right now,” I offered.  She nodded and squeezed my hand. Continue reading “Why You’ll Never Hear Me Say “God Doesn’t Give Us More Than We Can Handle””

About the title, part 2: Jesus

As I mentioned in my previous post, “Jesus Lady” is a nickname I was given at the hospital.  It happened a few years ago, when I was called to the room of a very sick pediatric patient.  They asked me to give voice to their prayer and I did so the best I knew how, after asking them specifically what they wanted me to pray for and what their beliefs were.  When I returned to the room the next night to check on the child, he was, to everyone’s surprise, doing much better.  As I was leaving the hospital the following morning, I heard someone yell from across the parking lot, “Hey, Jesus Lady!”  I turned to see the child’s father, smiling and giving me the thumbs up.  “Great job!” he said.  I laughed and waved off the compliment, feeling that whatever good had been done, it was certainly not within my power to do it.  (If I did have that power, I’d make sure every patient I prayed for made a full recovery, and I can assure you that is NOT what always happens.)  A few of my friends on staff heard this exchange, and teasingly called me Jesus Lady for a long time after that.  Some of them still do. Continue reading “About the title, part 2: Jesus”