Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Mom had hip replacement surgery last Friday. She came home on Sunday and she is doing very well and making good progress in rehab. My brother Jim picked some flowers from her garden and brought a beautiful bouquet to her on Saturday. She was thrilled to see a peony along with lilacs, coral bells, and irises.
Whenever a nurse, doctor, nursing assistant, housekeeper, food service worker, or therapist came into the room we would say, "Come, stop and smell the flowers." And they did. They oohed and aahed about the beautiful fragrances. They asked where the flowers came from and mom would chime in that they were hers.
It was healing for Mom who grew them and it was healing for the staff who were invited to pause from their usual activities and delight in the colors, textures, and fragrances of God's beautiful garden.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Bringing together medicine and spirituality for end-of-life care
from the Atlantic:
...the goal of his chaplaincy is not to dictate or prescribe, but instead to help the patient work towards their own sense of spiritual and psychological well-being -- to help them help themselves. "If I can help bring them a sense that they are not alone, that they have been heard, that their pain has been understood by another person, I think I've done my job," he added. --Chaplain Seigan Glassing
A Better Way to Die
Friday, June 14, 2013
The bells of St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minnesota are my anchor this week as I learn, write, meet new friends, and pray as a guest at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research.
The focus of study is "Blogs, Tweets, Posts and Faith: Writing for the Digital Public Square." I am working to hone my skills in the world of social media, including this blog. I am also working on developing a presence as a contributor to our Mayo Clinic Health System's blog, "Hometown Health." I will keep you "posted" on my progress.
Here are some words that describe my experience in this beautiful setting: chanting, loons, lilacs, Bauhaus, Nordic walking, illumination, laughter, electronics, and wordplay.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Wise words from a woman who was hospitalized with breast cancer about how to be a helpful friend (or caregiver or healthcare provider, for that matter) to someone who is sick. via The New York Times' New Old Age blog
What did other people with cancer tell you they like to hear from friends?
“It’s so good to see you” is something people love to hear. Because that speaks volumes and it’s a truth between friends.
Try to get at the truth of this enterprise. Which is, I want to make you feel better, and I feel bad that you’re sick or suffering. Just say the simplest thing: “I’m sorry.” If you’re not naturally empathetic, say, “I’m not good at this. I need you to tell me what’s helpful and what’s not.”
“I hope you’re not suffering, but if you are, tell me if there’s anything I can do. I really mean it.”
If I had to pick three things to say, it would be: “Tell me what’s helpful and what’s not. Tell me when you want to be alone and when you want company.” And, “Tell me what to bring and what to leave.”
You ask people to understand their own response to illness before they reach out to a friend.
People need this layer of honesty, so that when they’re in a hospital or a sick room they can monitor themselves and realize they’re pulling back, getting too close, appearing too upset or being too anxious. And that these responses are really about them, not the sick person. And that it’s up to them to control that.
Take a pause, a beat, before you say what you think you want to say to someone who’s sick. Stop and think, “Would I want someone to say to me what I’m about to say to you?”
Are there things people should never say?
Oh, yes! Believe it or not, friends say things like, “Is it terminal?” Never do that! Never say, “What do you think you did to cause this?,” as if it were your friend’s fault. Never say, “God only gives as much as you can handle.”
Are there times when words don’t suffice?
In the sick room when you’re nervous, the tendency is to overtalk. And I had to learn to live in the silence. It isn’t easy for me; I’m a big talker.
Sometimes the nicest thing to do might be to say, “I’m just going to stay with you for a few minutes, and we don’t have to talk.” People respond to that. And that silence can be a bonding silence, not an awkward silence.
Friday, May 31, 2013
photo by Linnae Carlson
Congrats to staff member Pam Horlitz, Red Wing master gardeners, and all who have helped to design, build, and maintain the healing garden and labyrinth at the Mayo Clinic Health System, Red Wing. It's beautiful!
Read about it here:
Here's a link to a Healing Garden Meditation:
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Healing presence is an art that we can all practice, bringing our own unique experience, depth, and wholeness to bear in being present with others, here and now. Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Art of Being a Healing Presence, by Jim Miller and Susan Cutshall.
A nurse washes the body of a stillborn child, then wraps and brings the baby to the mother and father. She models for them the naturalness of holding their child as they say their goodbyes. She stays close for awhile, then she recedes, allowing their privacy. Later, she is quietly available as the parents make plans for what they will do next. That is healing presence.
A volunteer for his congregation visits a man whose wife has Alzheimer's Disease. The husband talks about the stress of his full-time caregiving responsibilities. He voices his sadness, anger and loneliness, as well as guilt for having some of these feelings. The volunteer listens thoughtfully, nodding from time to time. When he finally speaks, he acknowledges the husband's feelings, then reports what he is witnessing: a loving husband who provides excellent care in very trying circumstances. Tears of relief and appreciation form in the husband's eyes as the two sit quietly. That is healing presence.
An aide bathes an elderly woman who lies in a nursing home bed. The woman seems alert but cannot speak. With great care the aide gives the woman a bath and shampoos her hair, talking softly, moving gently. Tasks complete, the aide sits for a few moments beside the woman's bed, holding and softly stroking her hand. That is healing presence.
Healing presence is the condition of being consciously and compassionately in the present moment with another or with others, believing in and affirming their potential for wholeness, wherever they are in life.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
On Memorial Day, remember to pause wherever you are at 3 p.m. local time for a minute of silence or a moment of prayer to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
Did you know that Memorial Day was started soon after the Civil War ended? It was called Decoration Day and it was observed in late May when the flowers were blooming so that the graves of the war dead could be decorated and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice remembered.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, observed on the last Monday in May.
In my home community of Waterford, Wisconsin, graves were decorated with flowers and flags, speeches were given, there were solemn ceremonies at all the grave sites. We dressed up in our wool marching band suits and joined the parade through town. Today, it is much the same, a great community event.
Check out the events in your community over the weekend. But wherever you are, take time to remember!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
A nice reminder from the Cleveland Clinic about empathy, the capacity to understand the thoughts, feelings, and experience of another person, enabling us to walk in another's shoes, share the burden, treat each other with kindness, compassion, and respect.
"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"
Henry David Thoreau
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Looking forward to reading Dr. Byock's new book:
"A doctor on the front lines of hospital care illuminates one of the most important and controversial social issues of our time.
It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Though the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home—which hospice care provides—many of us spend our last days fearful and in pain in a healthcare system ruled by high-tech procedures and a philosophy to “fight disease and illness at all cost.”
Dr. Ira Byock, one of the foremost palliative-care physicians in the country, argues that how we die represents a national crisis today. To ensure the best possible elder care, Dr. Byock explains we must not only remake our healthcare system but also move beyond our cultural aversion to thinking about death. The Best Care Possible is a compelling meditation on medicine and ethics told through page-turning life-or-death medical drama. It has the power to lead a new national conversation."
Friday, April 5, 2013
I love that Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, where I served as a chaplain for twelve years before coming to Red Wing, highlights the ministry and mission of my friend Margo who is an awesome chaplain. She describes our work very well:
Helping Patients and Families Find Their Way
“I’m a guide through the traumatic spiritual and emotional terrain of a health crisis,” said Margo Richardson, summing up her role as a staff chaplain. Patients and families often struggle with questions like “Why me?” or “Why am I being punished or abandoned?” when they get sick or injured. As she listens to patients tell their story, she follows their lead and pays special attention to the sources of strength and support they mention. She then provides the spiritual care right for them, whether it is prayer, a ritual or re-connecting them to their core strengths, values, and faith. “I know I have done my job when I witness people getting to a better place. They begin to find meaning in what is happening, cope with life changes, and find hope.”
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Passover - freedom! Easter - resurrection! If you are celebrating this week, blessings be upon you and all your loved ones. Spring is coming, too, and now is. Blessings be on all those anticipating springtime too! Here is a poem that speaks to that longing:
by Luci Shaw
March. I am beginning
to anticipate a thaw. Early mornings
the earth, old unbeliever, is still crusted with frost
where the moles have nosed up their
cold castings, and the ground cover
in shadow under the cedars hasn't softened
for months, fogs layering their slow, complicated ice
around foliage and stem
night by night,
but as the light lengthens, preacher
of good news, evangelizing leaves and branches,
his large gestures beckon green
out of gray. Pinpricks of coral bursting
from the cotoneasters. A single bee
finding the white heather. Eager lemon-yellow
aconites glowing, low to the ground like
little uplifted faces. A crocus shooting up
a purple hand here, there, as I stand
on my doorstep, my own face drinking in heat
and light like a bud welcoming resurrection,
and my hand up, too, ready to sign on
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
For me, this year the real meaning of March Madness is an endless winter that drives one to despair of ever seeing spring again. Like Beret in Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth, sitting in her sod house out on the prairie enduring the long winter, from October to April, running out of food, exhausted by the raging blizzards, slowing losing her mind.
People are downright cranky about the long winter we are having in the upper Midwest. We are so ready for spring - but it will be a while yet until we can see the crocuses coming up and other signs of spring - green grass, budding trees, songbirds, the warmth of the sun. What to do in the meantime?
Pretend it's November snow instead of March and go outside and play.
No? How about this: practice gratitude. Find something to be thankful for every day, whether you're happy about it or not. Try to get some sun and air when you can. Being cooped up in low light brings a lot of people down in the best of winters. Jews and Christians can prepare for their spring religious holidays - Holy Week begins March 24 and Passover March 26.
What are your thoughts?
If all else fails, watch yourself some March Madness on tv!
Spring is coming - BELIEVE!
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Make my life a living prayer.
May I flourish in your sight.
Make my life a living prayer.
Where there is truth and wisdom, there is love.
Beautiful words to ponder at Lent and all year - to live praise, gratitude, and service manifested in truth and wisdom, with love for all God's children and the whole Creation.
All are welcome to experience this beautiful worship as you're able this Sunday. Come and bask in Aaron David Miller's deeply spiritual settings of Julian's words.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Time to replenish our food shelves!
Each March, Minnesota FoodShare directs the March Campaign, the largest food drive in the state and restocks almost 300 food shelves across Minnesota. It recruits thousands of congregations, companies, schools and community groups to run local fund and food drives to aid in the effort. The need is greater than ever. Visits to food shelves in our communities are growing exponentially. Read up on poverty and hunger facts at this link: Poverty and Hunger
Then get out the checkbook and support your local food shelf! Here are some in our region:
Red Wing Area Food Shelf
1755 Old West Main Street
Red Wing, MN 55066
hours T, TH 4-6 p.m; Fri 11-2
Cannon Falls Food Shelf
First English Lutheran Church
511 W. Belle St., Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Lake City Food Shelf
600 South 8th Street, Lake City
Pierce County Food Pantry
Ellsworth Village Hall
130 North Chestnut, Ellsworth, WI
Or, give through Minnesota FoodShare, your local church or civic organization.