A Year of Being Kind blog –Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Being Kind While Assembling a Puzzle?
There are lots of new things to learn when a person gets a new job. Even when a person knows how to do the component parts of the position, still. I compare it to putting the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, I know most of these various parts of my new position, but I have just barely gotten started. I suppose I am still turning all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle over, and starting to put the border together. (to take the analogy a bit further, that is)
I’ve learned so much from so many different places! For example, I started learning visitation in earnest when I was a chaplain intern at a large retirement center. That was more than ten years ago, when I attended seminary.
I still remember the first resident I visited. The frail, elderly senior was in the health care unit. My chaplain supervisor encouraged me to visit this dear person, and gave me a little background on the senior’s physical and mental condition. The senior’s spine was chronically, increasingly bent and deformed. The mental condition was deteriorating, too, although simple language and communication still were effective. I spoke gently and cheerfully to this person, talking about my small children. My younger two were in primary grades at the time. I got very little feedback, but I knew this senior recognized I was there. I tried to be a gentle yet cheerful presence, yet I wondered afterwards how effective I could possibly have been. I remember talking about this visit with my supervisor afterwards, too. He encouraged me to continue—and continue I did.
This was where I started to learn about how to be present with people, in a gentle, caring way. I found I have a real ability in this area. Several chaplain and pastoral supervisors have told me about it, especially how I am able to be with people in a calm, less-anxious way. Not always, of course. But as I am with people, I discover this calm, gentle manner just sort of switches on. And happens.
So, I know how to be with people in serious, even traumatic situations, from my years of serving as a chaplain. I can see how this skill will be applicable to my new position, from time to time. Even more often sometimes. Like today—I was present with someone and encouraged them just by being there. I did not say too much. However, I heard them thank me, heard the appreciation in their voice. That’s satisfaction, to be sure. And I suspect my being with people, my gentle, caring presence is a large part of my job—of the puzzle that makes up my new position.
This living one-day-at-a-time business sure is interesting! I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?
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