Friday, May 19, 2017

Hospice Chaplain Work Days Again

This has been a tough week for many of my colleagues at work.  It's not the same kind of tough week endured at my old job:  no mass lay offs.  But it's been a week of bad news about family members, the death and ICU kinds of bad news.

I go into efficient administrator mode during these days mainly by finding teachers to cover the classes or by teaching them myself.  But I also take a minute to pray--and I work hard to remember to pray in the days and weeks after the bad news.

I am also picking up on various tensions at work.  They are more of the high school/middle school tensions:  who has been mean to who, who feels excluded, who has the best/most/worst in the currency of gossip.  Recently I walked by a group of colleagues and heard one say, "A certain someone talked to me in a way that I don't quite appreciate."  I kept walking.  Life is very short, and I'm not getting tangled up in all of that drama anymore.

When I'm in an expansive mood, I'll pray for those folks too.  I remember those days of drama and when it all felt so very important, back in those days before disease and death afflicted so many who are close to me.

There are also the quieter conversations, where I hear about the fears we all share:  what is the future of higher ed these days?  And where do our various schools fit in?  After these conversations, I remind myself to pray.

I'm reminded of the work of many a hospice chaplain I've known or read about, the ones who cannot heal our physical issues, but who can be with us while we face what must be done.  There are times when I feel like administration jobs are similar.  As an administrator, I can't fix everything (some weeks, I cannot fix most things), but I can be present.  I can slow down and listen and offer a cup of tea.  And then I can pray a silent prayer.

Some weeks, I say, it's not much, it's not enough, I wish I could do more.  Other weeks, I wonder what would happen if more of us prayed silently for guidance and hope and healing throughout our days at work.

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