One way to know that people matter to you is how long you keep them–in your head, in your heart, in your spirit–when they bother you, when they hurt you. It’s one thing to drop and run. It’s another thing to be tripped by the fact of their mattering.
If you drop and run too fast, who you thought mattered didn’t. If don’t quite cut and run, if you don’t bolt, and if you move slower out of connection, something else may be happening.
If your feet are clogged by the dry and wet grasses of disappointment, anguish, and sorrow, perhaps you were good at a little word called love.
If you think of your students long after the ringing bell; if you consider the comment made and how pained it made your listener; if you remember, hours later, that interaction and its biting chump into you, perhaps you have evidence that you have loved.
Perhaps what happened in those relationships actually matter. Maybe what you built, created, and cultivated made a difference. Grant it and grieve.
When I’m actively supervising a group of CPE students, it always impacts when I can get to my unit in the intensive care where I’m the unit chaplain.
When I’m not supervising, for instance, it’s easier to be with my patients because I have more time for patient care.
When I’m supervising students, I split my time between the pastoral education component of my work and the clinical chaplaincy with patients and staff.
The other day I was in the MICU, and I heard something that I hear whenever I’m on the floor. Have you ever considered what you hear on a day-to-day basis?
It didn’t occur to me that I heard this comment so much until that moment. A nurse was talking to another nurse and she said, “I’ll help you.”
I think a patient needed moving. They may have been readying for a procedure. I can’t remember the context, but the phrase stood up and jumped into my ears.
I hear it all the time. Nurses talking to nurses. Supervisors talking to students. Fellows talking to residents. When you spend your time hearing, “I’ll help you,” it turns you into a person who expects help and, maybe, who will be helpful.
We tend to condemn in the system what we do not recognize in ourselves. Sins do not exist in general; they are specific, concrete, carrying their weight measured in terms of fearful accuracy. We do not sin against humanity; we sin against persons who have names, who are actual, breathing, human beings. The root of what I condemn in society is found at long last in the soil of my own backyard. What I seek to eradicate in society that it may become whole and clean and righteous, I must first attack in my own heart and life.
From Howard Thurman’s Deep is the Hunger, p. 99
I had a martial arts teacher say when I started karate, “You can look at me. That’s why I’m here.”
She was modeling our kata, showing us, all of us who knew nothing about what we were doing, how to do the martial form.
She was permitting us to see. She was requiring it.
I wrote in the last post that I’ve been reading about painful things lately. It’s hard to read about pain.
A lot of trauma, therefore, is unseen. A lot of pain goes un-witnessed. But I know that a lot of people go unseen, too.
There may be good reason for not seeing. I have trained myself to look in side glances rather than directly. I have been trained “not to stare.”
Who wants to offend? There is a way in which we learn not to look at one another, even when we are there to be seen. Even when that’s why we’re there.
So much so that it’s the noticing that becomes shocking, the witnessing that becomes jolting.
May God and all our teachers teach us how to look.