@Chaplain Brinker

Week Three:
Primer Ch 5,6,7
Places of care. I care for seniors who live in a retirement community having different levels of care: independent, personal care, memory care, skilled nursing. It is indeed a living classroom. Even though these residents are in retirement, all the life they have lived follows them here. At this stage, grief and loss is a recurring significant issue. Even when thy are in good health, choosing to move here means they are giving up a home, space, possessions, neighborhoods, circles of support, familiar friends. Their journey here continues to be marked by loss of health, ability, cognition, strength, resources. Often their spiritual journey moves from believing in a God who fixes things, to the God who is with them, accompanying them in each stage of these changes. The perceptual sift comes in see that there is an unbidden journey we are on which comes to use, verses they journey we once thought we directed or controlled. I am so taken by the strength of those who have inner resources to find hope and cope with these significant life changes. I see my role as chaplain as trying to explore with the residents what spiritual resources they have, what they need to cope well, and how they want me to accompany them on this journey.

I enjoy being with the residents in the memory care unit. Admittedly, I have not known them when their minds functioned more completely. But when I am with them, I feel I connecting and caring for a person, not half a person. I look them in the eyes, I hold out my hand toward them, I say their name, and say “I am so glad to see you today.” Today, as I entered the unit they were finishing an exercise time, playing bebop music. I greet some of them as just described. But with the addition of music several of the women thought I was reaching out my hand inviting them to dance. One women who doesn’t talk, took my hand, started moving her shoulders, saying “wooo, Wooo, WOOOO.” The light in her eyes, the laugh in her voice, and her smile let me know we had connected.

Listening Caring Skills Chapter 3
p. 39 I affirm the concept of practice of identifying emotionally with a speakers emotion as an expression of caring. When I have experienced this it has been wonderfully affirming. When I have been able to hit this target, it has opened doors with others.

p. 40 An informative chart. It is interesting to me that there is a range of emotional meaning to any one expression. I see reading emotions more as an art than a science.

p. 48 Summary box with formula is a concise statement that will be helpful in putting this into practice.

Reading this chapter triggered a memory that was unpleasant. Over the years I have made use of counselors to help me with problems I was experiencing. I have seen enough counselors to have a variety of experiences. Some have been good, healing and helpful, others, mediocre, and others unhelpful. Counselors are just like people in every other caring profession. Some connect with us better than others.

I was struggling with accusations made against me by parishioners where I was pastoring at the time. I sought out counseling to gain perspective and strategies for coping as well as responding in more helpful ways. During the six weeks, I would talk about the troubling experiences I had, retelling what had been said. At the end, the counselor concluded that I had been lying because of a certain way I looked into a corner of the room when I was telling my story. I felt betrayed. I was revealing my hurts, being transparent. When I challenged his statement he said it was based on scientific studies used by police in interrogations. Later I shared this painful experience with a friend who is a psychotherapist. This counselor had been a Social Worker. She told me a counselor with Master’s in SW is not qualified to use or diagnose using this technique. She also said the studies of eye movement was inconclusive because left handed people present different eye movements than right handed people. I happen to be left handed.
In any case, this chapter on reading body language for insight into emotions triggered this memory of how I don’t like to be falsely accused.

Feedback is most welcome. David Brinker