So - it’s come to this.
After months of wrestling with the koan “Well - what are you doing here?”, being taken in and patched up by the great hearts of the 1:00, the past few nights filled with pointed dream imagery, being prodded by a Nun, and coming close to going back to hi-tech - I think I figured out what I want to do with the rest of my time above ground.
I want to become a Chaplain.
There. It’s in print. Holy shit.
Every time I say that, or write it, or think it for too long - I break into a bit of a sweat. My Priest tells me it’s because I desire this, which is an altogether different thing than just wanting something..
I think Chaplaincy plays to my strengths since the role seems to revolve around presence and quiet companionship. And - I’m comfortable in any number of spiritual lineages. The people I’ve checked in with about this all think it’s a very good idea. What’s worse is that it feels true to me - which only leads to more sweating. (I’m sure this is just a phase).
It could take a while to get there.. worst case as far as time goes would mean a 3 year Masters of Divinity degree. I’ll be trying my damnedest to become credentialed in a more expedient fashion. I mean three years is nothing if you’re a kid. My kid days are long gone. I even said to Doff “I almost died last year. What happens if I die while I’m taking classes? “ She said “So what? You’ll be doing something you love.” heh...
Lots of people know the (possibly apocryphal) Goethe quote:
Already this is happening. I have been the beneficiary of great kindness and generosity even at this very early stage.
I just hope I’m not too late… I hope Rust Coehle in True Detective was wrong for once when he said to Marty:
To make some money with my camera, I’ve taken to real-estate photography. In this modern day, home buyers do their scouting online by looking at photographs of the interior and exterior of the property they’re interested in.
That’s where I come in. When an agent gets a new listing, they will send me an email and tell me when they want to list the home online and when they’ll need the pictures by. We set up a time and then I go with the agent and spend an hour or more photographing the house and yard.
Normally, my customers need very fast turnaround on images - as in less than 24 hours.. That means as soon as I conclude the shoot, I go home and spend the next several hours doing post-processing. Once the images are all to my liking - I push them to a file sharing site which sends a note to my customer.
Real-estate photography is quite different from shooting in the Cathedral of the Great Wide World. The shoot itself is very time-constrained because quite often my customer is pressed for time. I have to quickly assess the best views of each room and get the shots down. I never know what I’ll find in a house. I never know what the lighting conditions will be. Sometimes I’ve had to make friends with four-legged house guardians trying their best to keep the house safe from me!
The thing that is most poignant for me in this work is that I am coming in to document a huge transition in people’s lives. Home selling/buying can be more stressful for the participants than divorce or bankruptcy. I know I am treading on sacred ground. I know I am pointing my lens at spaces where families have been raised, relationships begun and ended and mended again, struggles overcome, storms weathered, losses endured. Some homes have been modified by their owners who often take pains to point out to me the improvements that they’ve done with their hard work, their “sweat equity.”
The whole thing slays me.
And so - I take pains to make these images be the best rendition of homes that I can possibly do. My images are online ambassadors and help attract new families, new stories to folks' front doors so that they themselves can turn the next page in their own adventures.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly helpful and supportive Doff has been during this new venture. She’s set me up with my first customers. She has a great eye for what is important in a real-estate shot. She’s also helped me with customer relations and responsiveness. What a peach!
It’s only Wednesday and yet this week seems like it has gone on forever.
Past nights have been full of vivid, apocalyptic dream imagery. Driving into floods. Driving in a storm while blind.
The flood dream was especially High-Def. In it I’m driving Carl on a route that I used to take to get home from work many years ago. I recognized the intersection, the lights, the billboards, the factory buildings, everything.
Clear. As. Day.
Then great brown-green, white-capped waves surged towards Carl and me. We were able to get to high ground while the water raged all around us.
Last night there was the dream of driving blind into a full gale. As much as I wanted to, I could see nothing at all through my slitted eyes, but continued to speed on into heavy weather.
It seems like maybe something is slipping free from a once secure mooring. A thick bow-line has frayed in the wind and is now giving way.
I’m not worried.
It is quite a show.
I wait on the will of Heaven.
It’s dizzying to consider the causes and conditions that lead to this particular moment. Not just my particular moment - but anyone’s particularity.
Give it a shot some time.
Take a moment and think. Try to go back through the chain of events that has lead you to this precise situation. Daunting, no?
Every one of our tiny actions, every one of our tiny hints of desire cascade into might rivers of consequence.
There are no isolated actions.
There are no disconnected desires.
Everything causes vibrations in the vast web of existence - in Indra’s great fractal net of being. How those vibrations manifest later on is anyone’s guess. It’s hubris to think that well-intentioned actions or even "well intentions" necessarily yield positive results.
And so - I think it’s worthwhile to recognize moments of grace when they appear.
And then -
“What does Saichi mean here? I can’t claim to know for sure. But when I reflect, it seems to me that Amida is foolish because Amida is never apart from us, who are foolish, and all the world, which is foolish too. Amida participates in our foolishness in order to relieve it. Amida doesn’t cast sinners out in anger. Those who are the hardest to reach are given the lion’s share of Amida’s compassionate attention."
~ Jeff Wilson - Buddhism of the Heart ~
“Two Streams, One Channel"
Translation by Kwan Um School of Zen