Creating Space

It's a walk by faith and not by sight.

Rest when you’re weary.
Refresh and renew yourself,
your body, your mind, your spirit.
Then get back to work.

Ralph Marston

We are just around the corner from starting the final quarter of 2014. Almost nine months have elapsed since I received a “Star Word” – a word for reflection and application in my life for the New Year. (I write more about Star Words here – check it out!)

Now as my Jewish colleagues and friends begin the celebration of the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah, I found it appropriate to reflect on my “Star Word” again. My word for 2014 is VITALITY – things that bring or encourage life and growth.

In my work as a chaplain, there are many times that I get frustrated or I am, quite simply, depleted. I have no emotional or physical reserves, because the work I do is one of listening and walking with others. I seek to bring perspective, hope, and sometimes, emotional and spiritual healing. There are days I get home and I just want to relax. But life has a way of asking more — and for the love of family and friends, I do try.

What gets me from day to day is remembering that I do NOT ever have to go, flat out, 1000%, hyper-focused on the needs of others. In fact, to be a good chaplain, I have to remember my own questions and needs. I am creating space where I can refresh and grow, and then pick up my work or my tasks.

Vitality means that I find the spark of joy and life around me. It’s learning how to see brightness on a gloomy rainy day. How to find humor in the most difficult times. And I am better at learning when to say, “I’ll be back with you in a bit” and take a breather.

As the seasons move from summer to autumn, I am spending time in my garden, weeding, raking, transplanting and trimming. I’m enjoying the last blooms on my rose bush, the end of the lush green in my yard. I’m seeing the migration of the hummingbirds begin, and the noise of the geese increasing.

I have carved out time to walk the labyrinth in our back yard. Standing or walking slowly, I note the changes that are beginning to herald the coming of autumn. It is beautiful. Refreshing. Renewing. And sobering. Wasn’t it just June, with humidity and mosquitos? I marvel at the way the months melt away.

I have a tendency to rush from one assignment to the next – when perhaps I need to stop and wind up a few thoughts first. So I invite you to watch for the signs of the turning of the season with me. And remember to REST. And then… get back to work.

In this season of refreshment, renewal and reflection, I am stopping for a moment to remember Whose I am, and Why I do the work I do. Perhaps this would be a good spiritual practice for you, too!

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To those of you who celebrate, I say, “L’shanah tovah!” May you indeed have a good year and a sweet one.

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