My family and I entered a new chapter this past week.
Shortly after our fourth child was born, I stepped away from my career as a nurse to focus on our family and our family farm.
It has been more than 20 years since I have been employed outside of the home, and our family was equal parts excited and nervous as I accepted a full-time position with Fraser Health to work as a spiritual health practitioner in the long-term care setting. Caring for the “least of these” has looked different for me at different times of my life, and I feel ready to dedicate my time to living this out in this new context.
It has been somewhat of a circuitous route that has brought me to this new chapter. As I approached the completion of my seminary degree in 2021, I was uncertain what the future held for me. I have been involved in church leadership since I was a teenager, and this continued during my years at home with my children and while in seminary.
Was pastoral work in a church setting the inevitable outcome of going to seminary? I found myself browsing jobs in healthcare settings, wondering if pursuing a degree that deepened my understanding of my Anabaptist faith had entirely been an exercise for my personal spiritual growth without providing a clear path towards a job.
When I stumbled across clinical pastoral education, the way forward became clear: I was being drawn to return to the healthcare setting, but in a new capacity. As a spiritual care practitioner, I would provide care for the spiritual needs of the “least of these” in a hospital/long-term care setting.
While I was not convinced that I wanted to extend my study period for the necessary training, I knew that this was the right direction. The past year-and-a-half of classes and various practicum placements have reinforced that this is the ministry that I have been preparing for even before I knew that this job existed.
My work as a nurse, mother, community volunteer, church leader and student have equipped me to expect to encounter people who are experiencing spiritual pain and to expect to experience the Divine as I partner with them for a little while on their journey. My love for Jesus and my earnest desire to live out my faith in a way that brings the peace of Christ to those who are suffering, are what give me the joy for this sacred ministry.
I have heard “the church” described as people who are living their lives as those who have been changed and are being changed by their experience of the call that the love of Jesus has on their lives.
I am excited to do this in a new place, but maybe it’s not an entirely new chapter after all.
Mary Barg attends Eden Mennonite Church and has served as secretary of the MC B.C. Executive Committee since 2017.
Read more From Our Leaders columns:
A narrative of hope
Evangelism that heals
A season of Jubilee
Diversity in our unity: Belonging to each other in the body of Christ
Thoughtful and prayerful changeovers in ministry