March 19 is a tad special for me. Now, it’s not my birthday, August 26, or the day I was baptized, June 4. It’s not even quite the significance of July 27, when I married my wife (can’t wait to celebrate our first anniversary!). But it is a special day to remember.
Two years ago March 19 was a culmination of training, of hard work, of leaving and grieving and returning and grieving again. Two years ago March 19 was perhaps one of my proudest moments and one that spurred my imagination for my future. It also was filled with joy, excitement and anxiety too.
Two years ago on March 19 I started my job as a trauma chaplain at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston Texas.
Two years ago, I found myself starting this job after a guy wrenching 4 months of unemployment after I finished my masters degree and chaplaincy residency at one of the best hospital systems on the planet, Memorial Hermann. (I say 4 months knowing that 4 months may not be long at all for some and so I count myself lucky) 4 months I waited after hearing that the dream job I had applied to at Texas Children’s was denied to me and that I finished second in their search. My heart was torn out and I was confused- it just seemed perfect. And so I set on a journey away from Houston and my home church and the family that they were to me, and went back home to California. And I applied, applied, and applied more. In fact, I found a job offer and held off on it based on a measured wager that Texas Children’s might hire again. And when they offered, I continued my journey by returning to Houston, and feeling grief a second time for my blood family knowing that their presence would be sparing as I lived a half nation away.
Two years ago, I started here at TCH. A job that reflects my skills in listening and support and my heart to serve sick and hurting kids, bind up the wounds of their family, and reflect the presence of God. Two years ago, I started a job for which I now have grown into a unique ministry, one where I serve the trauma units, participate in the Child Abuse Advisory Team, present to clergy in Houston, participate in the BioEthics team, attend dinner dialogues to develop relationships with other faith groups, meet children and families with new diagnoses of cancer and diabetes and brain tumors, and get to meet all sorts of great parents and families. I get to read Scripture to kids, pray with parents, bless the hands of nurses and RT’s and tra the staff as my flock.
Two years ago, I got to start a job that reflects my competencies, my heart for where I find brokenness, and my familiarity with hospitals. And it also was a gift from God in that it allowed me to be a member at my church home where I find my spiritual family, my friends, and my wife.
I may not be a chaplain forever, but two years ago on March 19 I was given a gift of a new beginning at one of the greatest Children’s Hospital, with some of the best staff ever, and supported by family in Cali and family at Southwest Central, I have been grateful to God ever since. Praise be to God!