I forgot to mention yesterday that this week’s posts are about transitions. May be it was obvious from the Hakuin post on Monday but I thought I should state the obvious because sometimes what I think is obvious tends not to be. Hence my tendency to get in a lot of hot water when I’m asked to play with others. Oh and, that’s the Manhattan Bridge up there.
It occurred to me one day last week that, when things don’t go smoothly, my assumption that I don’t play well with others could be somewhat one-sided. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I don’t play well with others who don’t play well. With me or anyone. Of course, I freely accept that there are times when I don’t care to play well with anyone. Be assured, should that happen to you, it is quite intentional and independent of what a wonderful, considerate and kind person you are. It’s one of the Dharma Seals: the (your) self that I am not playing well with is empty; don’t sweat it.
In the transitions from shrink to Chaplain, I’m noticing all kinds of ways I don’t play well. OK… I choose not to play well. Organizing my volunteer time and my field trips is giving me wonderful experience to watch this unfold. Everyone has an idea of who I am and most of the time they’re holding a conversation with the concept and not the me that’s present. Fascinating. It was particularly evident when I called one Chaplain to ask if we could meet for a conversation about… well… being a Chaplain. He immediately launched into all the reasons why I simply could not, could not talk to him about what he did because it was oh-so-secret-being-of-the-Spirit and all that, you know. And besides, he intoned, there was clearly a deep, dark reason why I was seeking out a career in spiritual care – likely as an escape from my inadequacies in my current profession. I thanked him and said yes, I would definitely call back when I’d exorcised my demons. Same Dharma Seal: the (my) self he was not playing well with is empty; I didn’t sweat it.
Anyway, I’ve bought this bridge to Chaplaincy and will have to walk it even if getting across may be more challenging than I thought. All joking aside, I do approach the situation with an honest humility; I mean, what the heck do I know about being a Chaplain so asking to be an understudy is appropriate. But if someone doesn’t want to play because they are caught in the concepts of win/lose, that willingness to understudy can come across as threatening, I suppose. These are tough times and everyone is fearful for their jobs – even volunteer ones. After a few abortive meetings, it became clear that I either had to become invsible or I had to find a better quality of rebels to play with.
Thankfully, in the dismal corridors of mental health care, there are a few good rebels left and I have chosen to be co-opted into starting my Chaplaincy internship with them. So far, we have been sharing our strategies for being difficult and how to put in the little extra effort required to be bloody impossible. (This is a great by line from a blog called English Pensioner.) We are raucous, wicked, and wild. Sometimes though, but not too often, we even say Spiritual Things like “Good God!” or “What the Hell?!” I think I can play well here.
Thank you for practising,