Conserving the Blessing!

Even through all the sorting, releasing, and theological deconstructing of the last decade, I’m conserving the blessing of my ordination offered to me by the Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, 18 years ago, March 20th. This blessing was offered in faith, that I would continue along my path of conducting a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, encouraging me to love my self well, and to work compassionately in the pastoral care of others, with Jesus as an inspiration and teacher.  Though I no longer call “Baptist” home, it is with a deep heart of gratitude that I continue to serve in an multifaith ministry role as a hospice chaplain, with my best intentions of embodying the “beacon of freedom’s light,” for all those I have the privilege of serving.

May God bless you with the myriad colors of Her playful wisdom, teaching you to honor the best that is within you and to carry the beacon of freedom’s light to Her people everywhere.

Blessing by Leslie Kendrick

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Tracking for Soul #1: Elmer’s Tune

The tune had been on his mind for a few days.  I immediately pulled out my i-phone to google the title, and sure enough, a youtube download was available of Peggy Lee singing with the Benny Goodman Band.  In the moment of hearing the opening lines, he smiled with a twinkle, and I joined in the ‘dance’ as we listened together, gently tapping the rhythm with my hand on his immobile ankles.

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“None that I know of…”

I’m not really sure when the unraveling, fraying began.  There was no  one bad sermon, or tragic life experience that wore me down. In the late 90s I had a coveted staff chaplain position at a prestigious cancer research institute. From the looks of things, I should have been happy, however, my unacknowledged restlessness, discontent, even depression, was a slow creep that came about while I worked VERY hard to take care of myself, and complete my board certification process.  Fancy that?  Doing all the right things I knew to do, and still…the fatigue.

The fourth or fifth spring  after I was endorsed with the American Baptist and had been minted as a board certified chaplain, it was time to write my annual review to the denominational office that oversees professionals working outside the church, i.e chaplains, pastoral counselors.  In addition to writing a narrative case review as one example of a year’s worth of my work, the standard yellow form asked some standard questions:

How many people have you led to Christ?”  “How many churches have you helped to plant this last year?

The first few years I respectfully responded in sincerity with, “None that I know of.”  By the 4th or 5th spring, my written reviews with my answer, “None that I know of,” were accompanied by a cover letter to the director of the review office suggesting that they might consider altering those standard questions at the bottom of the page, and ask about other things like… what are you hoping for as your practice evolves as a professional healthcare chaplain, or what are your enlivened questions that you’re playing with right now? or what keeps you up at night with curiosity/wonder?  No personal reply, just a standard acknowledgment letter that I passed once again, remaining in GOOD STANDING. Institutionalized people (with a good heart) listen, but they do not hear.

I was not able to continue to just go along for the sake of GOOD STANDING.   It took me 2+ years to make my very painful decision about releasing my endorsement and certification as a chaplain.  It wasn’t just about the yellow form!  It was so much more. The constellation of non-nurturing experiences were telling my soul, This is not feeding you! The wellbeing of my heart required radical, intentional, even drastic steps.  And so I moved forward.

More of the story to come.

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Playing with Polarities

I belong to a play consultation group called the InterPlay Way for people who serve as helping professionals in various arenas, from the academy to psychotherapy to institutional and parish ministry.  As our members checked in last Friday with what was up for them, what began to arise was a theme around polarity…to be small or large in our voices, relationships and respective places of work. The play forms in InterPlay are there to provide a framework to create with – play with, whatever arises in any given moment.  InterPlay’s culture of affirmation gives one hope and encouragement to press up next to self- imposed limits, and to play with/ explore new landscapes in relationship to self and others.

As one who listens deeply for a living, it is becoming more integral to have places/relationships where I am listened to by others, a place where I can hang out with my whole voice/self, exploring it’s color, size, content, creating all the while.  Last Friday in my group, I played with the range of my voice, because I often hold back out of regard for others as well as my own anxiety and an over-deliberate mind.  When I over-think things, my voice can sound sharp, rehearsed, and often out of touch with the present moment.  When I trust my self in the moment, my voice is more likely to sound fresh, authentic, transmitting a spirit of personal truth and wisdom.  In playing with the larger/fuller range of my voice through movement, storytelling and singing, I’m noticing I am both creatively amusing, powerful, and clear.

Posted in From the Playground | 2 Comments