Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week of Waterproof Mascara

More than once this past week, I've thought, I wish I had used waterproof mascara this morning.  Or no mascara.

The week began wonderfully:  on a sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay, in the midst of nature and my family, being reminded of God's expansiveness.  No need for mascara of any kind!  It's more like a camping trip, with no mirrors and no showers and simple clothes.

I was home for all of a half hour on Wednesday before I got the call.  It was my boss, who said, "I have HR here with me."

My first thought:  nothing good ever comes after that statement.  My second thought:  I wish I had saved more money.

I was told of restructuring at work.  I'm luckier than most.  In the new organization, I can apply for a new job that's much like my old job.  I should know the outcome in the next month.

Others will not be so lucky.  At our school, 45 people lost their jobs, 21 of them faculty.  At our nationwide network of schools, 800 people lost their jobs.  It's been a tough week.

I've wept with the faculty who got the worst kind of news; we're losing 5 people from my department.  I've wept for my youthful enthusiasm that believed that jobs in higher ed would be abundant and if not lucrative, at least fairly paid.  I've commiserated with people who have survived this round of job cuts, but who wonder when they will be next.

And then, just to make life interesting, just in time for the 20th anniversary of hurricane Andrew, we've had the approach of tropical storm Isaac.  It's been hard to know how to prepare for this storm.  It's the size of Texas, so even if we're nowhere close to the eye, we'll still feel effects.  It's wobbled, so it's hard to know how close it will pass.  It's made many people more tense than they would be otherwise.

Once again, I feel the Holy Spirit saying, "I'm so glad that you're interested in hospice chaplain work.  Do I have a job for you!"

At the end of a tearful conversation, one of my laid-off faculty members said, "You know that entity in the sky who you talk to?  If you could say a word for me, I'd appreciate it."

I thought about her vision of God and how it's different from mine.  I thought about how I wished I had the spiritual discipline to pray for all the people in my life's orbit, regularly, whether I know that they need it or not.  I decided on a simple answer.  I said, "I will pray for you."

I have a friend who's from a more charismatic tradition than I am.  Friday afternoon, I told her about our week of work trauma.  I asked her to pray for us.  She told me of all the prayer networks she's part of, and she told me she'd add our names to their various lists.

I wish I was better at prayer.  But I'm thankful that I've gotten better at being present for distressed people.  Once upon a time, I'd have tried to solve problems, to cut emotional conversations short by listing all the possible solutions.  Now, I sit and listen.  As I listen to people in distress, I pray silently.  Maybe that's a good start to becoming the kind of prayerful person I want to be.  Maybe my hospice chaplain self can do no more.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Oh, Kristin. May you continue to find the way through as you listen and comfort and pray.