Thursday, September 18, 2014

an unusual story perhaps, and… - part 4

So, I resigned from my job with no prospects other than my one-day-a-week private counselling practice and some teaching that I do.  But let's back up the truck a bit.

About 18 months before I decided to resign I was contacted totally out of the blue via email by a person who had seen on the Canadian Spiritual Care website that I am a spiritual care counsellor from a Buddhist perspective.  She was doing spiritual care internship, also from a Buddhist perspective, and she wanted to get together over lunch and talk about what it has been like for me.

We had a very nice talk.  She was, and is, a very lovely person.  We touched base once or twice after that but for the most part we had both gone our separate ways.

So, "coincidently" after I had resigned she contacted me again, and again out of the blue.  Only this time she had found temporary work scheduling on-call spiritual care counsellors as a local hospital and she was wondering if I would be interested in taking some shifts.  Heeeeeee….ck YES!!!  The money wasn't much but it was something, it would be work that I've done before and loved, and who knows, it might be a foot in the door.

Frankly, I had given up doing spiritual care ever again.  I had worked in this profession for over 4 years in the US, but in Canada the requirements were stricter, just stricter enough to keep me from getting hired, or even interviewed, having submitted several applications.  I had essentially given up on doing this work I loved ever again.

Well, as part of taking on these on-call shifts I needed to interview with the Director of Spiritual Care at the facility where I would be working.  We met, the interview went well, obviously he had read my resume.  Things were moving forward.

In a few short weeks, I found out that there was an opening for a spiritual care counsellor at a nearby very progressive mental health and addictions facility.  At the advice of others I applied, doubtful but with a glimmer of hope because I had many years of experience in a variety of mental health arenas to augment my spiritual care experience.

Well I got an interview.  Yes, I actually got an interview.  I still can't believe it.  The interview went well.  They said they would contact me toward the end of the following week.  During this following week I was in eastern Canada celebrating my 60th birthday with my wife and my two brothers and their wives.  Something we had been planning for almost a year.

I was so anxious and so hopeful about the prospect of getting job.  I didn't realize how difficult it is to be unemployed at the age of 60.  My age had taken on the appearance of a shadow that was following me everywhere, lengthening, and darkening, with each trip to the unemployment office, each glance at the help wanted section.  So, during this trip I was carrying my cellphone everywhere.  I was having a great time with my wife and family but there was this edginess that was also cellular, only in the original sense of the word, in my body, in my brain.

As part of the fun, we had scheduled time at a really amazing spa, Scandinave.  If you ever have a chance, go.  They do it right.  And part of what they do so right is that they ask, not forcefully but firmly, that you maintain silence while there.  This adds so much to the relaxation and to the entire experience, but given my agitated state would I really be able to benefit from the penetrating warmth and undulating caress of it healing waters?

Just as we walked into the reception area and my phone rings.  I dash outside.  It's the Director of Spiritual Care where I had applied.  My wife is looking out the window motioning questioningly to me.  Thumbs UP?  Thumbs DOWN?

It was Thumbs UP!  I can't tell you how great it felt.  Work.  And not just work.  Really meaningful work.  And not just really meaningful work.  Really meaningful work that I love and in which I feel skilled.  And not just really meaningful work that I love and….  (you get the idea).  It was really meaningful work that I never thought I would ever do again.  I rushed back into the reception area and told my family to cheers all around.  I turned to the receptionist, a lovely young Quebecoise woman, and told her what the excitement was about, jokingly asking her if it would be okay for me to scream occasionally in this silence only spa.  She smiled sweetly, innocently even, nodded slightly and replied, "Oh oui, monsieur.  You can scream.  Just please do so internally!"

Her response was perfect (and quite perfectly hilarious). The timing was perfect.  The day became perfect.  The massage later was beyond perfect.  The job - I love it.

I am so grateful.