Saturday, February 19, 2011
It's been quite a while since I've posted something other than a poem. The past several months have seen me take a new job (yay!)and begin postulancy in The Order of St. Anthony the Great, an Episcopal monastic order in the Celtic tradition.
The new job is with Senior Connections, I'm a driver in the Meals on Wheels division. I love the work. It is good work. I deliver meals to a school, to senior centers and to elderly stay-at-homes. Yet the demands of time-tables and trying to maintain them in the pressures of nutty Atlanta traffic has been quite stressful on my right-brained nature. That, along with being out of "work shape" from a year and a half of unemployment and learning the job more or less on the fly has left me frazzled.
I've also had classes or meetings three to four nights a week. There is also the educational aspects of my postulancy, all of which has kinda left me worn out in general.
I also have Post-Concussion Syndrome which means I have memory and cognitive function challenges, high susceptibility to anxiety, depression and emotional outbursts. To manage PCS without medication requires a great deal of effort and is very fatiguing.
The first eight weeks of the job exhausted me and challenged me to find ways of dealing with the fatigue and stress. Yet I was comforted and enjoyed time spent teaching a class in my parish around the LTQ2 series. I'm also taking the Education for Ministry classes. Also time with family and my four legged companion Faldo was helpful. All these thing restored me and sustained me in balance against the initial stress of work.
The nature of my job requires a great deal of time driving between stops, which allows me time to breathe, to pray and contemplate upon the situation, and to hold my loved ones in my heart and mind which is a wonderful "distraction" from the stress. I also knew that adjusting to the job was just a matter of time.
I wake at 3:30 am, walk Faldo and meditate on gratitude. I also adopted an experimental prayer form, I pre-forgive the troubles which surely come with every day. I pre-forgive the negative or hurtful stuff that may come in the course of the day, accidental and intentional, I forgive too those who may seek to hurt me or dis-regard me. I also forgive myself for taking "it all" too seriously and personally so to keep things in proper perspective. This has lowered my stress, anxiety and agitation in very measurable ways. I am calmer than I have been in a long time. I am also more open to and less critical of those around me, all very good things.
I also practice Lectio after my meditations. Lectio is my favorite form of prayer as it seems to bring my whole being into prayerful state. In Lectio soul, mind, heart and body are all working together in a tangible way in reading and meditating in the material. After, I feel integrated as an individual and connected to life as a whole, centered in the heart of all being and moved to remain in communion throughout the day in all I experience and in all those people I encounter. I am ready for the day, and grateful.
A few weeks ago I had a breakthrough in the process of working. I had enough repetition to finally know the job to act without having to think about every single movement, which freed up my mind to be creative to find ways around the aspects of the job which were for me wasteful in performing the job accurately and efficiently which has diminished the stress greatly. The process is now a breeze in which I've created more time within the confines of timetables to have greater latitude in responding to the unexpected.
I also must say my co-workers are fantastic. I have never worked with such a great bunch of people, very helpful people, people who "get it", people who are teamer's. I shouldn't be surprised as people who work in non-profits aren't in it for the money, so they are going to have people centered values. Yet, I am grateful for them all, their help and their great humor.
I'm also grateful for my family, their love and willingness to just let me hang-out and veg or fall asleep, wake me, feed me, love me and send me on my way. I'm also grateful for my parish family, The Order and the elemental balance of spirit they bring to my life.
I will soon be moving into the monkhouse which will relieve great economic pressure and will add to my sense of communion with the brothers and sisters in The Order. Some volunteer responsibilities I took on while unemployed will wind down which will give me a little more time to again write and also gain a little more rest.
The changes brought with being laid-off in 2009, continue. It has been hard, but so rewarding. I have taken comfort in the graces of Mother Spirit's wisdom, in the living example of Christ Jesus and in the love of God given to me by so many in the widening circles of family and friends. I have kept the faith. I have lost it. When I have lost it, I have known the great faith of those around me who never lost faith in me. How could life ever had been better than that?