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A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay VIII: Attrition

It is not a time to model a stoic, machismo or even martyr-like demeanor.  To confront such tendencies, I have made a conscious practice of encouraging staff to take time away to recharge and enjoy life. During Halloween, I made a habit of asking young parents the costumes and creatures their little ones dressed up as and seeing pictures as often as possible. I am taking the week after Thanksgiving for a time of rest and renewal and I am telling everyone that will listen about my plans. Encouraging them to think about a similar time away.    

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Is the Church a Caring Community?

Acceptance of one another and willingness to forgive is crucial part of a Christian’s daily walk with the Lord. Verse 14 continues with, “and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” So, if we are to participate in caring, we must weave everything together in a single strand of love, and the result will be the beauty of the unity of God’s people.

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A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay VII: Fighting Fatigue

One of the things I have done since the beginning of the pandemic has been to walk the COVID+ halls at least twice a week. During these walks, I like to check in with staff to get a sense of morale, and provide an attentive ear, or words of encouragement. I talk with staff to determine especially difficult situations that might be occurring and then follow-up with family to provide support as needed. I often say a quiet prayer for the patients, families and staff. In addition, I count the number of COVID+ patients and those COVID+ patients currently on a breathing machine.

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Something for New Year’s Day: An essay from Stephanie Painter

Then I wrote a Family Mission Statement and placed a copy on the refrigerator for a daily reminder of my priorities. The tenets include mentoring her spiritual growth and showing her the importance of helping others. “Remember to add joy and humor to daily life!” I also wrote. When my younger daughter was born, I had a perfect lullaby and thoughtful plan to share.

If I could talk to that frantic new mother in the nursery, I’d say, “Hang in there. The spiritual journey, with its opportunity to grow into a better human being, one who can raise good people, will thrill you.”

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A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay VI: Reflecting Beside Still Waters

Throughout the pandemic, I have turned to the website MEDPAGETODAY: Honoring U.S. Healthcare Workers Who Died from the Coronavirus. The webpage is updated as needed. When I go to the site, I reflect upon the acts of courage, professionalism and kindness given by healthcare workers throughout the world and in the United States.                       

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A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay V: A Barge Boat

As an Emergency Department chaplain who also covers COVID+ intensive care units (thirty-two beds). I am called to serve in crisis ministry situations several times a day. In this way, I am frequently present in times of pain, confusion, loss and death. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her stages of grief theory continues to provide a valid starting point when understanding and being with those experiencing loss and grief. Today it is commonly understood that for most, the grief journey is not linear (simply one stage to the next) but rather more accurately describes the emotions felt in the “pool of grief”, and these emotions are then experienced in a more haphazard manner. Kubler-Ross identified the emotions of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance within the grief journey.       

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A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay IV: The Journey Continues

The most difficult visits for me occur in Labor and Delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. These visits drain me emotionally and I am continually amazed by the heroic teams of professionals called to work in these units day after day. Labor and Delivery and the Neonatal units are for the most part the happiest areas of the hospital full of new lives, but at other times, they are the saddest units in the hospital. The sadness and intense grief seem to fill the hallways and enter the hearts of all associated with the death of a baby.

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Meditation and Prayer: Awaiting the Nativity offered by Terence Aditon

As the days advance to the arrival of any baby, there is both joy and trepidation, a new blessed being, emerging from labor, and love. So with Advent, awaiting the Birth that marks another beginning for the world.

It is mortal pain that brings forth the Christ child from Mary’s body. His mortal life begun as any babe’s, wrenched away from the warm ocean of the womb to the cold air of earthly life. The Child lifted from the Mother, a sign that this most precious Life will end in being lifted on the Cross, and lifting us up, with Him, to the hope of heaven.

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A Chaplain’s Perspective: Essay III: It’s Been Three Months

The beginning point of every chaplain encounter with patients, families and staff is to be a compassionate presence who can keep your head when frequently the people around you cannot. In this way, a chaplain becomes acutely aware that there are times when the reality of the moment can be too much, and a patient or family can be overwhelmed with emotion and the ability to think is unattainable. Emotion can overload the cognitive brain; this can occur in times of crisis such as a new and very difficult diagnosis or the death of a loved one.                 

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More thoughts on making a retreat: Hints to make your retreat experience special

Think of your retreat as wine tasting.  When you go to taste wine you don’t drink everything, you don’t like everything and you don’t buy everything.  The same can be said for your retreat-you are going to like some of the program and not like some of the program.  And you are going to wonder which parts you should do and which you shouldn’t.  Taste them all, or most of them but don’t “buy” the ones you don’t like.

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The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

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