After my on call hours last week, I crawled into bed with a heavy, sad heart. My feelings were a mess; my mind a sort of emotional blender, as I was tied up in an unresolved situation with a family in my care. (I can’t even go into the details. Trust me. It was terrible.) I wept angry tears. I wanted to punch something. Instead, I prayed, posted a quick SOS to some stalwart prayer peeps, and tried to rest. The phone kept ringing. A fundraiser knocked on the door. I was ready to lose it. Again.
I settled back on the bed, purring cat beside me, and decided that I would recite the first Bible verses that came to mind in a measured, meditative way. What came to mind? Psalm 23? How ironic.
These are the Bible verses that I learned when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I say them with families at the bedside. Recite them at funerals. Listen to hymn settings of these very, very familiar words. A few weeks ago I even blogged about this Psalm here…
But as I closed my eyes and began to speak these familiar phrases, I found myself returning to one phrase, over and over…
He restoreth my soul.
God does restore my soul. The trick I’ve learned as a chaplain is to admit when I so desperately NEED God’s restorative touch. To carve out space in my extroverted self to reflect, review, renew and restart. To operate from a place of internal rest, not external action.
Part of my restoring work last week involved sitting quietly on the patio, listening to the birds and watching the wild rabbits forage for dandelions. I also baked some scones as a gift of love for the high school’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I folded some laundry. Did some stretching. And took a walk about the block.
My soul was still heavy and sad. But there was light, hope and peace in the distance.
When I walk back into work this week, the situation may have been temporarily resolved. But I will take up my job of listening, caring and companioning those who are still struggling with its aftermath.
I am a chaplain. God restores my soul.