Who am I, post RPH!
Well the time has almost come, I officially become a non-Royal Perth Hospital worker on the 29th May, 2015, after 28 years on and off in that institution. It’s a strange feeling, so while I am classed as redundant, and thus receiving a payout to leave, it still doesn’t seem like a celebration!
In fact it feels more like a death in the family, as I have enthusiastically championed the merits of evidence based medicine, particularly in orthopaedics, all this time. It seems such a letdown that the hospital cannot find the money or will to continue with my Unit.
But at this moment what is more disturbing is that suddenly I am not a scientist!!! What, that is what I have been all my adult life, since I started at Medical Physics all those years ago. I love science, and being a scientist, and have always wanted to be a good one. Now I am redundant, or unretrainable as the hospital suggests, which has become rather a shock to me. Part of my identity is suddenly being taken away without my choosing.
I have come to realise lately that this change means a great deal to me. Being a scientist said something about me, and necessarily about my faith position. For you see, I have also worked part time in a local Uniting Church for the last 5 years. Being a scientist and a Pastor seemed to say something about my theology. Surely there is a middle ground if someone can be both, can work in both domains. Surely there is a rational approach to faith that takes into account new discoveries and insights not available to earlier Christians or people of God. Surely we can live in the 21st century and still be a follower of Jesus, even with this new knowledge. This is what I have wanted to portray as I coped with two jobs in these vastly different fields.
While it hasn’t been easy and for much of my time I have been justifying my theological position to both camps, the scientists who think I am deluded but harmless and the conservative Christians who think I am a heretic, I have relished the role. Never have I turned down an opportunity to debate the issues.
And now, now I don’t know where I am….
Actually that’s not true, I have some inkling, and it’s a place many people find themselves. When we lose jobs, family, when we fail to complete degrees or simply find the pressure of daily living too much and opt out we find we are suddenly not “something”. We are just well, us. No labels, no profession to hide behind. Just us. We give no hint or story by what we do as a job, but what we do and say period. It a very vulnerable place.
It’s also scary and not so comfortable. What will I tell people at a party! What do you do… Well I was a scientist and published lots of papers and went to lots of conferences and now I am unretrainable….
Mmm, the fact of the matter is that while I oscillate from relief to sheer terror at not having a science role, suddenly I do see some freedom.
I could do other things, expand my horizons, open new ways of thinking and being, and perhaps even develop new skills that don’t involve a joint replacement or SPSS. I could even become a better Pastor, one that is not so time poor.
Most importantly maybe I have to discover who I really am, without any titles or responsibilities, any Unit to run or people to manage. And no image to maintain. Maybe I can explore the universe and find within me the stars and galaxies that we have come from, and to which we go in the end. Maybe I can confirm what makes me really happy, gives me purpose and meaning, and allows me to contribute just a little bit to the greater good.
Maybe I can listen and hear the God within me calling my name…
Maybe I could actually really follow Jesus, and work for those marginalised in our society…
Worthwhile pursuits I think, not earth shattering, because I am not the earth shattering type and perhaps it won’t leave the same mark as if I discovered or invented something. But it seems like a good place to start…
So as I say goodbye to RPH, perhaps I should be thanking them for releasing me into the ether. From where I may find, who knows….. me!
I will have to get used to saying at a party, well I am a part time pastor in my church, and watch the eyes of the person asking gloss over. If you want a job with little street cred say that!!