End of semester Chats II
Tuesday 14th May 2019 @ 7:13 am
Working in Trinity can definitely be fun at times.
It is rewarding – exhilarating – inspiring.
Hanging around students who will be leaders in Ireland and around the world (some of them sooner rather than later) is a particular joy. Getting to know staff is great. Having access as chaplain to peoples real lives, and trying to see the Kingdom of God coming alive through peace justice humility forgiveness and transformation is nothing less than an honour.
Sometime the honour comes from unexpected sources.
The second communication that has stayed with me from this last semester is another one which brought a tear to my eye. But for different reasons than my previous blog.
Quite simply, it was an email of thanks.
Myself and another staff member run a group for bereaved students. We will sit with those who have lost friends and family, often in horrific and unexpected ways. Sometimes the grief is years old and they have never chatted about it with those around them, sometimes the grief is more recent – and more sad.
Deep loss hits everyone … I love this group because there is no escape. These people are the brave ones, they choose to enter a room and have a conversation. They choose to circle up and share their pain. They choose to listen to others – they choose to listen to themselves.
While ‘advice–giving’ is not welcomed as an element of the conversation, sharing yourself, and helping others share themselves is welcomed. We are better together, and there is no better way to face deep grief than finding space to express it.
It’s amazing how many people feed back to us that the best thing about the group is the realisation they are not alone. Imagine that? Just about the only sure thing that we can stake as humans – death and deep loss – is something a lot of humans in the world avoid to the extent they feel it’s only them. How sad that one of the things which can unite us most deeply (a shared sense of vulnerability in the face of death) is one of the things which we feel the need to carry alone. Deep loss will come into your life. You cannot avoid it. How you learn to live with it / carry it / learn from it / transform it / ignore it / repress it, is always going to be up to you.
I will not go into the details of the email which came from a member of the group. Suffice to say however that she was struck by how the timing of everything in her life seemed to flow toward healing in these moments of our group. I was deeply encouraged by her generous words of thanks to those of us who ran the group simply because of her own humility. In other words she had been, without knowing it, one of the primary keys to the groups success. She had offered herself vulnerably through sharing and listening to others, and her gentle poise and grace had invited others into a safe space of sharing and learning. It was only because of her, and others like her, that the group was a success – and then she thanks the organisers as if we did something good!
How lovely to be thanked – it is gracious and encouraging. But even more lovely to is to be able to reflect and recognise the achievement had very little to do with you, but was the depth of character in someone offering their own vulnerability as a pathway to others in healing that led to transformation.
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