Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mixing work and play in the (post?)modern world

As I prepare to begin another intense summer of teaching pastoral care in a hospital and Minna prepares to make the transition (ordination at Hebrew College on June 6!) from rabbinical student to full-time rabbi, we decided to take a few days to ourselves during which we got to one of Minna's favorite places near her childhood home -- the Morton Wildlife Refuge near Sag Harbor, NY. But work came with us. That's Minna above answering a synagogue-related email on her iPhone (while maybe-not-so-wild turkeys sneak up behind her!).

The challenge of making time for play while still being available, as professionals, to the people and tasks that require us is one that almost everyone seems to face, today. But it's an especially challenging issue for people who are clergy or in related forms of ministry. People -- especially those facing the crisis that is illness, injury or loss -- expect us to be able to be present for them. As Minna's teacher Art Green said in a recent talk in Rome to Catholic sisters, "this ability to be present can only come out of your own spiritual life. To live a life of giving to others, you need to be nourished by God’s presence in your own life. To hold people, in their pain as well as in their joy, you as a rabbi (or a priest, or a sister) have to manifest your own strength, which is really not your own at all, but God’s, in which you are rooted by your own faith."

That's why coming to a place like Morton is so important when we are able to get away. For Minna, Morton is not just a place to relax. It is a place to rediscover what she already knew but that she might have forgotten among all the work and stresses -- who she really is, what she really cares about. For Morton -- for her -- is a place of spiritual centering. A place that makes meaning for her. A place that has been with her as she has made the many twists and turns that have been the journey of her life and her spirit. . . . The value of this _kind_ of self-care is a big part of what I will be trying to share with my chaplain students this summer -- not just time off, but time that nurtures the soul.

The ocean at Morton:
From Morton and such (publics)

Of course Morton, while a place I am happy to be at, doesn't quite have that meaning for me, having one first discovered it (courtesy of Minna) a couple of years ago. I was reminded of that first visit this time -- when Minna fed chickadees who landed on her hand -- as she invited this one to come land on her hand:

From Morton and such (publics)

It was a good time on a too-short trip. But at least I got to ride a bicycle there (Minna snapped this pic of me in the Morton parking lot on her Dad's bike):

From Morton and such (publics)

The Rabbinical Assembly annual convention was also going on in New York during these days and I got a chance to reconnect with some old rabbinical school colleagues, etc., who were in town for the convention. It was really great to see them and my old dean, Rabbi Brad Artson. This connecting with other rabbis -- people who face similar challenges and joys -- is another important kind of self-care.

For all those who have a long (or even a short!) weekend coming up as Memorial Day approaches, may you find true restoring rest -- rest that makes it possible to do the meaningful work you have out in the world!


PS Here's another pic of Minna at Morton. I really like this one!

From Morton and such (publics)

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