During my last week as a hospital chaplain (during my clinical pastoral education internship), I met a 93 year old woman who was in for...well it doesn't really matter. Let's call her Lucy. Lucy never had children and she's been widowed for over 20 years. The only relative who lives close by is a nephew of her late husband who visits occasionally. Before I realized what I was saying, I asked if I could visit her when she gets out. I've visited her weekly for the last couple of months, with my kids in tow. The problem is that instead of being the kind of person who visits childless old ladies in retirement homes I'm more of the kind of person who likes to think that she is the kind of person who visits childless old ladies in retirement homes. These are 2 very different kinds of people. In other words, I end up dreading the visit, I scold myself for having ever promised this lady that I would, out of the goodness of my heart, come and see her each week, and then I feel like shit for feeling the regret. What I've realized is that this is a spiritual discipline like any other. I am trying to make this woman's life a little brighter not because I'm Julie fuckin' Andrews, but because I'm not and I think maybe that God is using this situation to discipline me. Now, I realize that discipline is not a very cool word, we head strong obstinant, opinionated types cringe at the sound of it, but I think there's something very rich and useful in spiritual discipline. For me it simply means that I am being freed from the bondage of self. Self, in my case, is very centered on itself and profoundly undisciplined. Any freedom from this that I've experienced in life is not a result of my ability to discipline myself, but God's ability to change me, and for this I am deeply grateful. I do, however, have to be willing to participate in God's work in my life. Sometimes I am able to muster this up and other times I am not. So, I guess I'm going to keep visiting Lucy, it means so much to her and I guess I can get over the fact that I'm not really the selfless-big-hearted gal I want to be, and simply be content with being deeply flawed and deeply faithful.