I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 8, 2014

BK hug a blanket of kindness

I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

Ever have someone close to you need help? Assistance? Someone to be there, with him (or her). This kind of situation is probably all too similar to so many people. As someone who is familiar with care centers and people who might need more care at home, that clears my brain and heart to be present with people.

I know I’ve spoken about this aspect of care and concern before. As a chaplain, my inner ‘antennae’ are sensitized to people who are going through stuff. Any kind of stuff. And it’s not only the people I know, but it’s also others who know them.

It doesn’t particularly matter. Whether I’m called a chaplain or a pastor, I still come alongside of people. I still try to be calm, gentle, welcoming. A practice I’ve developed in the past few years, it doesn’t always work—it doesn’t even usually work. But when it does, I try to journey alongside of others. Use my less-anxious presence.

Sometimes, I am so grateful to have people appreciate my presence. At other times, they haven’t. They want to be alone, or with their friends. They can be hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and therefore snap my head off. But regardless, I offer to be there. To be of service. To be kind.

Thank God that many people are grateful, thankful for company while they are going through stuff. And for the others who aren’t, at the time I asked? That’s okay. Some people have real challenges, and it’s difficult for them to come up smiling all the time. I understand, better than others. Hugs help, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind? Long Distance.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 13, 2014

LOVE never fails 1 Cor 13

Being Kind? Long Distance.

A dear, lovely older friend of mine let me know something serious and significant several days ago. She told several others of her acquaintance, too.

It happened quite suddenly. A close family member entered hospice. This is overwhelmingly a matter of great concern, I know. But with my friend, even more so. She told me, because she is flying overseas. Or rather, she flew overseas yesterday to be with many in her extended family at this terribly sad time. And especially with this dear one, in hospice.

She told me, because she asked me for prayer. “Of course!” I said. She knows that there is nothing—medically—that can be done, other than comfort measures. But I certainly will lift her and her whole family in prayer. I have, already, and I will continue to do so.

From time to time, there is very little that can be done for patients. Medically speaking. This can be when the doctors and other medical staff start talking about hospice. I know, because I’ve sat with patients right after they have been told it is recommended that they enter hospice. Or, I’ve been called to a room when a family member has been told that there is nothing else that can be done, medically. If they did not want to see me, I did my best to understand. If the or the patient acted out, or showed some big display of strong emotion, again—I did my best to understand. And, I tried to walk or sit with them for a little while, and to be a quiet, calming, less-anxious presence.

It can be difficult enough if loved ones are close by. Family and other loved ones, coming to the hospital, care center, or home can be, indeed, difficult. But just imagine if you were half a continent away from your loved one in hospice. Or, what is even worse, half a world away? This is the case with my dear friend. This is why I said “Of course!” when I was asked to pray. And—this is why I am providing the kind service for this dear loved one in hospice. Long distance.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, I pray for my dear, sweet friend. Help her to be a blessing for her family. Assist her with caring for her very ill family member. Come along side. Act as a holy Comforter to the whole extended family. Calm anxious, worried hearts. Provide times of awareness and friendship for all who wait, including this beloved one in hospice. In Your mercy, dear Lord, we pray.

@chaplaineliza

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A Season to Be Kind. A Season to Be of Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BK power of touch, smile, chance to be kind

A Season to Be Kind. A Season to Be of Service

“To everything–turn, turn, turn!/There is a season–turn, turn, turn!” The Byrds’ song echoes in my mind today as I consider things in my life. My personal life, my professional life. Yes, things are shifting and changing, even as I sit here and type on my computer.

People are sick. People go into the hospital. People have operations. People get well. People go to school. People graduate. People get jobs. People lose jobs. People retire. People get pregnant. People have babies. People die.

Yes, I realize these things, intellectually. Even experientially, on occasion. But these happenings are occurring with more and more regularity. Or not ‘regularity,’ per se, but I see increased occurrences. In that case, I wonder why I’m particularly noticing the changing of the ‘seasons’ of life?

A good thing for me to do would be for me to focus on one thing at a time. Not get bombarded by lots of things, all at once. That’s a prudent idea for anyone who is going through a number of shifts and changes in their lives. (Even good or positive changes!) God, help me to take life one thing at a time. One day at a time. Even—one hour at a time, sometimes.

Anyone else feel overwhelmed from time to time? (I know I do!) Well, meditation techniques and mindfulness practices come in very usefully, here. If I can keep my head and keep up a less-anxious presence, then I have a decent chance to keep an even keel, emotionally and psychologically. It is then that I have the opportunity to be of worthwhile service, to act in a kind and caring manner.

Yes, I have been trained to be of service in a health care center setting. Sometimes this setting can be really trying, even traumatic. But I have been praised by my supervisors for my less-anxious presence. Thank God, I do know how to act and (often) how far to go to keep things in a positive, healthy direction. Even when tragedy strikes, as it has recently. A senior I have known for the past several years has died. I did my part in letting people know, just a little while ago.

And, that’s only the beginning of the stuff that’s going on. Personally as well as professionally. God, please give me the words to say to bring comfort and concern to me, and for my people, as well. And help me minister to the loved ones and those who mourn his passing.

@chaplaineliza

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A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014

do_small_things_with_great_love-6382

A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners

I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.

I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.

The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.

I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.

This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.

@chaplaineliza

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