My Journey Toward Chaplaincy
March 18, 2017 – This month I embarked on my first trip to Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I was accepted into the 10th Cohort of their Buddhist Chaplaincy program. The Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Training program is described as: “a visionary and comprehensive two-year program for a new kind of chaplaincy intended to serve individuals, communities, the environment, and the world. The program is open to those who wish to prepare to serve as chaplains as well as those who wish to deepen their understanding of service from a Buddhist and systems perspective.”
In my application process, I talked about my budding meditation practice as the basis for healing from grief in my own life. This program inspires me to deepen my own healing and groundedness, as well as to provide a stable shoulder for all beings along my path in need of compassion. My volunteer and professional work within K-12 and the LGBTQ+ community give me some ideas of where I may want to focus my energies, but I am also interested in expanding my experience into prisons and onto the streets, connecting with some of our most universally vulnerable family members.
The first year of the Chaplaincy training is focused on “Inner Chaplaincy”, as we can not provide stability to others without being more stable in ourselves. Already, I feel immersed in these learnings and look forward to sharing my journey with all those who wish to walk along side me. Thank you to my friends, family, and sanghas, including the Mindfulness Community of Puget Sound and 40+ colleagues in Cohort 9/10 as well as to our numerous teachers at Upaya. I could not be here without all of you.
Peace Through Grief: The Beginning
September 6, 2013 – After the sudden loss of my mom last year and the loss of my dad eleven years ago, I’m beginning to consider that maybe, just maybe, I’m here on this earth to talk to others about grief.
In the recent years I’ve also lost two friends to incurable illnesses and seen dear friends lose their unborn or newborn children. I have seen the strain, discomfort and confusion that grief brings to families. I have felt, and witnessed, the deep depression that comes with grieving a loss.
Grief is real. It hurts. And it comes in many forms. Losing a job, losing a pet, losing a parent, a sister, a brother, losing a best friend, losing a child, breaking up, getting divorced, getting ill, getting hurt, moving away…the list goes on and on. Over the past year, I’ve been exploring the many “whats” and whys” stemming from my personal experiences of loss.
What does it all mean?
What is my purpose?
Why did he/she die?
Let’s face it, as we get older there will be more grief in our lives. We will age and the people we love will age. We may see people we love die from illness, accidents, violence, and even suicide. We may have children and endure grief through their experiences. And all of us, eventually, will also die, perhaps even experiencing deep grief through our own demise.
So what can we do about it? A year before my mom passed, I had written in a journal that my goal for 2011 was to cultivate inner peace. I believe Finding Peace is what we can do about it. Peace is not something that is far off in the future, it can, and must — especially in times of great grief and sorrow — be accessed here and now.
Of course, finding peace in times of great grief and sorrow can be extremely difficult, but I believe that peace through grief is not only possible, it is part of grief’s purpose. I’ve read many stories of the same opinion – where a tremendous amount of peace is accessed only after a great loss. There is something about loss that leaves you so vulnerable and raw and I know in my life (and perhaps yours, too) the most significant vessel toward inner peace has been through grief. This blog will explore some universal questions as we journey to find peace together, here and now, through our grief and losses.
Thanks for reading, more posts to come. Let me know in the comments if there are any topics you’d like covered, specifically!
With Love, Jess