April 3, 2017
By: Jane Bishop Halteman
Plugging in, refueling (from recent #100happyday photos)
Parker Palmer hit another home run this past week as he shared May Sarton’s poem “Now I Become Myself” on his Facebook page, along with some of his own questions for reflection.
Three of Palmer’s thought-provoking queries suggest that we consider how our work shapes us, whether or not what we share of ourselves is a renewable resource, and how eventually we might come home to ourselves:
As I do my work, am I aware of how it is shaping me—even as I focus on shaping it and, through it, some part of the world?
Am I giving away that which actually grows in me, so that what I share is a renewable resource? Or am I experiencing the kind of ‘burnout’ that comes from trying to give that which is not mine to give?
When was the last time I stopped running long enough to ‘live all of myself?’ How can I up the odds that I’ll have that experience again—the experience of coming home to myself at long last?
My own days of employment are behind me, but, even without the regularity of work, I sometimes ask myself questions related to Palmer’s: Where do I plug in? Where do I steer clear? Where do I refuel so that I can plug in at the places that seem most authentic to who I am?
These kinds of questions emerge on a regular basis, even for retirees who happily have left behind work-a-day-world jobs to give more time to offering an occasional hand to our children as caregivers for the grandkids. It’s been a busy few weeks, first assisting daughter’s family while son-in-law was out of town and then pitching in for son’s family while daughter-in-law did a conference in Atlanta. This week, which is spring break for the kids in both households but not for their parents, will provide opportunity for the cousins to spend time together.
In addition to full weeks, I’ve managed to distract myself lately on the weekends with church and neighborhood involvement. If you follow this blog regularly, you may have seen mention of attending John and Danile’s hymn sing, prepping and organizing a meal for a KRMC family’s move, watching our own church folks compete at table tennis, singing at a neighborhood choir festival, attending a local mosque open house.
Between visits to area gardens and interfaith prayer services, attending concerts and local plays, celebrating birthdays and sharing meals with friends, I keep myself busy with restaurant outings, small group and area group interactions, committee meetings, reading, writing, and watching political news until I’ve heard once too often about the new administration’s roll-backs that will affect our health, our children's education, the earth, and marginalize even further the already marginalized.
How do I handle questions about plugging in, steering clear, and refueling when I am distraught about the news? I appreciated Barbara’s quieting exercise Sunday morning at the start of her sermon as she invited us to breathe in the breath of the Creator and breathe out anxiety and fear, anger and frustration. Our visio divina adult formation class offered opportunity to draw strength from each other and a friend’s photography as we waited in the silence for a personal invitation shaped by the photograph and the circumstances of our lives. We imaged new life, possibility, anticipation while sitting with a vibrant photograph of a dead iris.
Small group later that day offered good food and fellowship, as we caught up on the details of each others' lives. Connections with family members rounded out the day’s fueling…talking to my 92-year-old mom and, after that, a long text conversation with my brothers about childhood memories sparked by an elementary class picture I ran across in my iPhoto library. Yes, it is good to find ways “to live all of ourselves.”
How are you coming home to yourself during this Lenten season? How are you plugging in, steering clear, refueling so that, ultimately, you will be available to the other?