Kindness Through Planning and Preparation

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 8, 2014

prayer and meditation

Kindness Through Planning and Preparation

My husband has the occasional dream (or is it nightmare?) where he is completely unprepared for a class. Different classes—middle school, high school, and sometimes college—with different specifics, but he always seems to be completely unprepared.

Me? I don’t remember my dreams. Well—that isn’t quite true. I rarely (and I mean, very, very rarely) remember my dreams. I might have similar dreams, like my husband. I just don’t remember them. However, I wouldn’t like to be caught unprepared, either. (Especially caught with my pants down, as has happened in my husband’s dreams now and then. Really.)

What does all this have to do with being kind, you ask? Great question! I am busily preparing for a morning of presentations and group facilitation, coming up soon. The presentation is going to be a morning of focus on prayer and meditation. A beginner’s overview, with some prayer practice built in during the final half hour. I’m excited! Enthused! Pumped! Oh, and I am wondering whether anyone will show up. *sigh* (That’s the nervous, anxious, nail-biting-me talking.)

Ultimately, who comes or doesn’t choose to come to the morning presentation doesn’t really matter. What matters is my stewardship. How faithfully and well I plan and prepare. I am providing service to others, and I hope those who attend the morning groups and presentation receive a blessing. And if they receive helpful, encouraging information, too, that’s an additional bonus!

I don’t usually talk about this here, but in addition to my Master of Divinity degree, I also am certified in the State of Illinois as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (or, CADC). As I share about prayer and meditation and facilitate that group, I will also weave some basic recovery principles into the presentations. Spirituality, prayer, and meditation intersect and are closely aligned with the recovery program. A well-rounded understanding of prayer and meditation can be helpful to those who would also like a more thorough understanding of the recovery program.

So, yeah. That’s what I am busily involved in right now. Actually, it’s fascinating, finding so many intersections of prayer, meditation, and spirituality. Then, the practical side, the practice-part. And to add some spice to the mix, a healthy dose of recovery principles.

Is this being of service? Is it kind? Am I helpful? I hope so. I pray so. God willing, let it be so.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Being of Service? Being Chaplainly. Quietly.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 11, 2014

Being of Service? Being Chaplainly. Quietly.

 

quiet--more you can hear

I enjoy being a pastor. I really do! I enjoy teaching bible studies, writing the orders of worship, contact with numerous people throughout the month (both on Sundays and the rest of the week), and all aspects of preaching.

However, I very much enjoy pastoral care. Being a chaplain. Coming alongside of people and journeying with them, for a time. Trying to ease their difficulties and challenges, as best as I can. (After all, I chose “@chaplaineliza” for my Twitter handle. That’s all.)

I paid two pastoral care visits today. Chaplain visits, if you like. One in person, and the other over the telephone. Yes, in this case, they were both to seniors, and both people said they appreciated the visits very much. But chaplain visits do not necessarily need to be to seniors. Just to people in need, regardless of age, as well as their loved ones, too, sometimes. To individuals who are hurting and would like someone to journey alongside of them.

Some of the people I see for pastoral care visits are so sweet and kind! Everyone else talks about them, and tells stories about them. I can hear the love, caring and support in all the other voices, and that makes me so very happy. The positive emotions and feelings are somehow amplified by their common expression. And by having those positive emotions and feelings bouncing around so much and so often? I have a sneaking feeling that the sick person is greatly benefited by so much love, caring and support.

(There are more and more research studies being done now, regarding the spiritual and emotional nature of being a patient in a hospital. I would not be surprised if some research team had already figured out some kind of test or survey using a Likert scale, finding some hard and fast measurement of the facts and figures surrounding emotions, feelings, and spirituality. I no longer have a job where I’m searching out those kinds of studies. But I digress—a little bit.)

Being a chaplain isn’t usually a showy, fancy-pants kind of job. Pastoral care is not particularly glamorous or flamboyant. Matter of fact, it is often an overlooked, quiet kind of helping. Participating on the caring team. “Oh, yes. There’s the chaplain, too. Over there.” That’s okay. I don’t want to be up front all the time. Or, even most of the time. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of coming alongside of people—in a quiet way. Especially, in a loving, caring, supportive and encouraging way.

Yes, I am quite proud of my usefulness in serving as a chaplain, or using pastoral care. Whichever you like—being chaplainly. In a quiet way.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

God what God knows about you

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

My Son and I—Being Kind Together?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 3, 2014

BK kindness let me do it now

My Son and I—Being Kind Together?

There we were—in conversation with one another. (Rare circumstance now, that we should be in the same room together long enough to actually have a conversation!)

My son knows about this blog. (As he might ironically say, “Duh, Mom! Of course I know about it!”) After all, I’ve just been involved in this being-kind-thing for five months now. Anyway, he and I talked about my efforts to be kind and to take opportunities to be of service, and help others.

I acknowledge my religious affiliation. Yes, God (or if you like, my Higher Power) is a part of my motivation for this being-kind-thing. But, wait! There’s more! I have the definite feeling that God is pleased by my efforts to be of service to others. To be kind. My son had his own slant on this: he called it “light work.” He is exploring his own understandings of spirituality and God/Higher Power, and he is enthusiastic about my daily writing about being kind.

We had a lively, intellectual discussion this afternoon about how exerting positive energy (his term) helped a person to have a positive feeling/aura that emanated from them. (Again, his slant.) I agreed, and tried to say something similar to what he just said, but with a Christian understanding. We ended up agreeing that positive, beneficial feelings naturally came out of a person who was in the regular habit of being kind, helping others, and looking for opportunities to serve.

I gave him a specific example. I told him about our trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden two days ago. His father, sister and I went to enjoy the beautiful weather and even more beautiful floral and greenery displays. As the three of us walked toward a small bridge, we approached a family coming toward us. From my years and experience in the hospital, I identified them as Latino. Several women, some preschool or elementary aged daughters, and two men. The father (or maybe uncle?) pushed a toddler boy in a fancy plastic car with a long handle. (Bright blue, with red wheels and a red handle!) I made eye contact with the father and the boy as I came toward them. I smiled. The toddler looked up at me. Just as the man passed me, pushing the blue car, I looked down at the toddler. I smiled even more, bent over a little, and said, “Bueno!”

That was it. But the little boy started to smile! So did the adults. I straightened, made eye contact with the man and with the women again, and nodded my head as they passed us on the path.

My daughter and husband were several steps behind me. My daughter sighed. I heard my husband say softly to my daughter, “You might roll your eyes now, but eventually you will appreciate how your mom can instantly connect with people.”

This made me smile! All of it. My non-verbal interaction with the family on the bridge, my daughter’s subsequent sigh (and probable eye roll), and my husband’s comeback. But this was a wonderful example of being kind. Taking the opportunity to be friendly. Open, welcoming! Or as my son would say, practicing “light work.” God, thanks for the great opportunity! Help me be open to Your leading tomorrow, too.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Conference-Goer by Day, Pastor by Night

A Year of Being Kind blog –Wednesday, March 19, 2014

keep it simple

Conference-Goer by Day, Pastor by Night

Another day at the addiction and recovery conference. A rainy and chill day, this time. Good day to be inside. As I mentioned yesterday, I love being with fellow professionals. I enjoy getting a refresher on the area of my certification! (For those of you who are wondering, I have a state certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. That’s on top of my master’s degree in Divinity.)

I loved both morning and afternoon sessions. Nothing too, too heavy. (Just kidding!) Seriously, just a seminar on grief and loss as related to addiction and recovery in the morning. This was followed by lunch and then a practicum on suicide. Both presenters were superb, and knew their stuff! I didn’t even mind discussing and learning more about such downer-subjects.

Many of the usual suspects—I mean, many of the same addictions and recovery professionals attend these sessions. I get the opportunity to hear from certain of them at the individual sessions. We all have some sort of service orientation, too. Many of these people are deeply concerned with and care about alcoholics and addicts, or drunks and druggies (as some people say). And oriented towards service? You bet! Such caring, loving service is natural for many in the addiction and recovery area.

I serve in the addiction community, too. I’m not currently employed as a counselor, case manager or worker at a recovery home or rehab unit, but I facilitate a spirituality group regularly at an inpatient drug and alcohol unit at a medical center several miles west. I’ve done it for the past nine years. (Gee, time flies when you’re having fun!) I do look on leading this group as service. Service to God (or, if you prefer, my Higher Power), as well as to the drunks and druggies who have just arrived in treatment.

A few years ago, when I was doing my two semesters of internship, I was able to serve as substance abuse counselor intern at this particular inpatient unit. After the ten month period of internship was over, I took the certification test, and added more letters to the end of my name. Oh, and I received a certification as Alcohol and Drug Counselor, too.

I praise God that I am available once a month to these good people at the inpatient unit, and facilitate the spirituality group. Many of those people in that unit are hesitant about religion. Understandable! If I had had similar experiences with church, religion, and dysfunction in the family, I probably would have a problem with religion, too! Since the recovery program and the 12 Steps are heavily spiritual (NOT religious!), this gives me an open door to talk about God.

Some prefer referring to God as their “Higher Power,” but I welcome any opportunity to let people know that God loves them, God has a plan for their lives, and God is with them—each day, all the days of their lives. One day at a time.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.