Almost every day, I go to Broward General Hospital. I am a member of a gym there, on the 8th floor. I see a lot of hospital life on my way to the gym. I've often wondered what it would be like to be a hospice chaplain.
Most of my friends think I'm crazy. They ask why I would want to be part of the saddest time of people's lives.
I always say that I want to be present for people as they go through significant life transitions. I want to pray with them. I want to help keep the focus on the important things.
Earlier this week, as my mind wandered through these familiar tracks, I thought that hospice chaplain or not, I'd like to be more fully present for the people in my life.
That led me to think, do I really want to be a hospice chaplain? Or is that yearning just a surface symptom of a deeper longing?
I feel like I have a full, rich life. Some weeks, I even feel it's balanced: I give equal time to my writing, my friends, my spouse, and my work. Some weeks, I feel quite out of balance.
But even the weeks when I'm feeling balanced, I'm feeling rushed and hurried. I'm thinking ahead to the next thing I have to do. I'm making lists in my head. I'm realizing I forgot something and trying to think about what it was and whether or not it's important.
In short, even when I'm balanced, I'm not fully present. Can I say I'm balanced, if I'm not present?
How can I be more present?
An obvious answer would be that I need to get rid of some of my activities. But which ones? Some don't bring me joy--like Church Council--but I realize they're important and few people are willing to do it. I have to work, so a substantial chunk of time vanishes that way. And my friends and I already have trouble finding time to get together, so I don't want to decide not to meet with them.
Some people might say I exercise too much--at least once a day I'm at the gym, on most days; some days I go back for an additional class. But I know what happens when I don't exercise. I know how important exercise is.
So, if I can't/won't ditch activities, how can I be more present?
I need to work harder at not letting my monkey mind wander away. I need to be more conscious of when I'm thinking about something else as I'm in the middle of another activity. I need to bring my mind back.
I need to be gentle with myself in this process. I need to train my brain.
I'm tired just thinking about it. And soon, the holiday season begins in earnest, and there will be more distractions.
Could I find spiritual activities to keep my mind focused? Could this be the year that we actually use our Advent wreath all the way to Christmas? Could I carry those activities--or something similar--into the new year?
I suspect this project, the being-fully-present project, will be a life-long discipline, or perhaps more accurately, a life-long disciplining process.
feeling the feelings…
9 months ago