I came across a blog post that reminded me what I need to do to continue to do this work of hospice chaplaincy. Hugh Hollowell quoted the advice given him by Bart Campolo:
He told me that if I knew I was going to walk across the desert tomorrow, I should be gorging myself with water tonight. Likewise, he said, if I know that tomorrow I will be surrounded by ugliness, I should strive to gorge myself with beauty to prepare for it. My days are pretty ugly at times. So he insisted I hang at museums, read good books, watch good films, read poetry and play in my garden. All in the relentless pursuit of beauty as a prophylactic against the ugliness I will encounter.
Stunningly simple. But so true.
On a daily basis, I sit with patients, families and other staff as we walk the final chapters of someone’s life. There’s hard questions, honest reflection and a lot of grace. I’m grateful I have the job that I do, but it becomes wearisome.
I felt the weight of my work this morning when I woke up. It took me a while to get moving and start the weekend’s chores. None of the work was rocket science, just the necessary tasks of any other full-time worker. Stuff like laundry. Vacuuming. Sorting through piles of crap. The final vacuuming and straightening after the Christmas decorations were packed away. But I just didn’t have the energy. The last week has been incredibly stressful… Not necessarily because of the work with patients, but the accompanying …uh… Fertilizer that seem to stink up the air. (I’m sure you know what I mean!)
So I asked myself… What are the things in my life that allow me to gorge myself with beauty? What do I need to keep myself focused, content and energized?
I came up with a short list… Perhaps I’ll add to it as the weeks go by. As I read over the list, I found it intriguing that the list was mostly activities of an introverted nature. For an extrovert, it gave me pause. It is because the nature of my work is challenging at times? Do I need a balance of group events and quiet reflection? Yes… I think so. I have been engaged in my activities of choice and it hasn’t been “enough.”
What’s on your short list? Inspire me!