Sabbath Morning

Verse 1

The morning comes on strings of light
slowly pulling ‘cross the night.
The brightening for which you’ve longed,
the music of a new day dawned.

Too long you’ve wept for broken dreams.
Nothing now is as it seems.
Aching spirit thirsts for streams
of grace to quench, cleanse, and redeem.

Chorus

‘Cuz I’m a mess and so are you.
Come lay it down and be made new.
Nothing else you have to do.
Undending love was made for you.

Verse 2

Shake the dust of sleep away.
Stand barefoot at the windowpane.
Watch the sun and sky embrace.
Allow your heart to greet the day.

Thrust upon the altar dressed
to carry all your life’s distress,
each heavy burden you possess.
Now enter into Sabbath rest.

Chorus

‘Cuz I’m a mess and so are you.
Come lay it down and be made new.
Nothing else you have to do.
Undending love was made for you.

Verse 3

You’re not alone now, look around.
Tired eyes here too abound.
Drink them in as they do you.
Fill up on love like morning dew.

The music urges you to sway,
your aching body made to play.
Thrust out the pain deeply inlaid.
And shake the lonely lies away.

Chorus

‘Cuz I’m a mess and so are you.
Come lay it down and be made new.
Nothing else you have to do.
Undending love was made for you.

Bridge

Unending love
unending love
unending love
was made for you.

Unending love
unending love
unending love
was made for you.

Conclusion

Your heart is full now but you know
that emptying’s just how it goes.
Like breath that gives us love and life,
healing all our wounds and strife.

Unending love
unending love
unending love
was made for you.

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Burn Out

I am burned out. It’s a common phrase, and we all pretty much know what it means. But today I feel it. I actually feel like a still-hot smoking wick at the bottom of a candle that has been completely sucked dry by the surrounding air.

I have nothing left to give today.

And why do I feel guilty about this? Bear with me: I need to do some self-examination for a moment.

Today is the sixth day in a row I have gotten up out of my bed to come and spend 8 hours in the hospital. Over the past 6 days, I have led and preached a memorial service, written a prayer for publication in honor of Nurses Week, led a devotional for transplant nurses in honor of their special day, planned and organized our department’s spring retreat, attended staff meetings, palliative care team meetings and a CPE graduation, completed mandatory education on online phishing and preventative practices for hospital acquired illnesses, provided mandatory staff devotionals on my units, attended codes to wait and pray with family members, been at the bedside of three dying patients who literally passed as I prayed, spent 4 hours being shadowed by a volunteer teaching and answering questions, and somehow kept up with my metrics and all the tracking we are required to report. All of this is, of course, in addition to continuing to provide pastoral and emotional care to my everyday patients and families.

So it does not surprise me that I’m burned out. What surprises me is that here I am, sitting in my office, and all I want to do is pack up and run away to the beach, but instead I’m feeling guilty about taking time out to write this post. To breathe. To focus on my own needs.

Because here are the emails I need to catch up on, and the passive aggressive insinuations that my numbers aren’t where they need to be, and I’m not increasing my visits by enough percentages, and I can’t take off a full day for PTO after all, so I’ll have to come in for 5 hours on the day I’m supposed to be off and work another 6 days in a row (even though I’m technically to blame because I asked for this, but who wants to waste a precious PTO day on mandatory events when we already have so few?)

I read a quote today by Thomas Szas that reads, “Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” This strikes a chord with me. Right now I want to feel serene, but I feel bored. Even though I’m busy, I feel like I’m wasting my time. And who wants to feel that way? I want to melt into nothingness and enjoy the present moment, even if it means I’ve only seen 2 patients and it’s already 12:00. Who cares? I work hard. Yesterday was incredibly demanding on me physically and emotionally, and today I need a break. So I’m spending this time rationalizing away my guilt and demanding me-time. If nothing else, it should be okay for me to get paid for me-time when my pay barely covers my rent, right?

I do not like feeling cynical. It’s not really my style. But sometimes I guess I just have to indulge my Negative Nancy and let her point out some obvious problems. I need to re-evaluate my boundaries. I need to take time for myself. I need to shake it off like Swifty.

That’s why I’m going to Chattanooga this weekend. I am going to do what I want to do, and I’m going to eat what I want to eat, and I’m going to read my book, and play outside, and see some fish at the aquarium and enjoy myself.

And I guess that’s about all I have to say about that.

Grateful Day 8

Today I am grateful for:

1) Puppies. My brother-in-law and his fiancee are in town visiting from Chattanooga and they brought their great dane puppy Duke. He’s already 25 pounds and is finally gaining a sense of balance that he hasn’t had the past few times they’ve visited. He’s still ridiculously lanky and wobbly and it makes me laugh. He’s a trip.

2) Self-care days. See my previous post. Yesterday was a fantastic day full of doing whatever I wanted and loving myself. Not everyone can have a full day’s worth of self-care, and I don’t come by it that often. But I am a proponent of finding time throughout the day to focus on taking care of yourself and doing things that are good for your mind, body, and spirit. Enjoy the small things that make you happy. (Caveat: For it to qualify as self-care, it has to actually be good for you. It can’t be eating a pint of ice cream and watching TV all day. I fall into that trap sometimes.)

3) Dreaming/visioning/planning vacations. A group of our close friends and Stephan and I are planning a summer friends-cation. We haven’t decided where we’ll go yet. But there’s something so life-giving about getting online and imagining a trip to New Orleans, or Myrtle Beach, or Charleston and exploring a new part of the world I’ve never been to with people I love. I do have a bad habit of setting high expectations for my adventures, and when those expectations are not met, I can get gloomy. But even if this trip never happens, for whatever reason, at least the process of dreaming has been fun. (It will happen.)

Something good that has happened in the last 24 hours: This morning I prayed with the family around the bed of a dying patient. That’s always hard but strangely amazing to have a family gathered around a loved one as that person prepares to die. I can’t explain what it feels like to be invited into that sacred circle, but it’s a good feeling. Not saying death is good or fun or easy. It sucks. But when there’s a chance for a community to gather and say goodbye, it can be holy too.

Self-Care Day

Today is Friday, and I’m off from work because of this crazy schedule where every single week looks different from the week before. So I have decided to make it a mental health/ self-care day.

I slept in until a little after 8. That’s almost a full hour more than usual. I remember the days when I could sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, but those days are no more. I’m not sad about it. I find myself kind of starting to like morning-time. It’s bright, but quiet. The rising sun shines through the bare trees bordering my back fence. I got out of bed and wrapped myself in my pink fluffy robe, the one Stephan hates because he thinks it makes me look like a granny, and sat out on the back deck while the dogs took care of their morning business. Then I decided to make tea.

I used one of my pretty Anthropologie mugs that’s usually just a kitchen decoration because why not? I put the kettle on and prepared my English breakfast tea with some organic honey from a farmer’s market in Memphis. Then I put some canned biscuits in the oven. I briefly contemplated the idea of making my own biscuits, but decided it wasn’t worth the mess this time around. Then I enjoyed a biscuit slathered in raspberry jam and some fresh strawberries with my tea. The joy of eating can be an incredibly holy experience when you’re mindful of each bite as providing you with life-giving sustenance.

Now I’m sitting at the dining room table, my beautiful antique table with the sqeaky but newly reupholstered chairs, covered in a fiesta-inspired table cloth with bright reds, yellows, greens, and oranges. There is a gorgeous piece of handmade pottery from Mexico we received as a wedding gift sitting in the middle of the table, filled with candy from a special invitation I received from my brother-in-law’s fiancee to be a bridesmaid in their upcoming wedding. The house around me is a little disheveled, or “lived-in” as I say when I’m trying to be kind to myself. And today is a day all about kindness to myself. So the house is lived-in and homey.

Today is full of opportunities for mindfulness and intentional living. I plan on meeting Stephan this afternoon at his new job for lunch. We don’t get to enjoy lunch together very often now that we are both working full-time. After that I might spend some time working on my novel, go for a jog as I start training for my next race, practice some yoga in the backyard with the dogs licking my face, and/or give myself a nice mani-pedi. I’m also going to spend time this evening reading scripture and praying in preparation for my steadily approaching commissioning interviews.

Today is a day I will practice loving myself, knowing that the more practice I put into it, the more natural it becomes. You should try it!