Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Defeating gloom

It's interesting to see how life's changes affect my sense of wellbeing and ignite a desire for something different. Recently, our little band of musicians has had some upheaval in its ranks, with one member being released, another deciding to pursue other interests, and the rest of us left hanging. My life hasn't changed any, but others' lives have.

Consequently, my life took a hit too because of the change in makeup in this organization which has been so important to me. We don't know for sure what direction we'll take. We're down to three members, fewer musical instruments, an emerging sense of who we are and what we sing, and, unfortunately, no gigs in sight to help us with the process of defining ourselves.

So I've been trying to absorb the changes, think about how I feel about the changes, and make a stab at reconstructing in my mind what the future might hold. It's not easy and this morning found me very gloomy, to the point of writing the other band members and suggesting we go on hiatus for awhile until the dust settles. I wasn't sure I could take any more rollercoaster stuff for awhile.

The mood persisted until I had to get in the car to drive to Coupeville for our regular chaplaincy meeting at the hospital. I'd had to bow out of a scheduled reunion with the Athena pals because of the conflict in dates (they were all in Portland overnight for a sleepover and I couldn't go) and because I had requested the particular topic of this session.

Dr. Haigh Fox from the hospital ethics committee came to talk to us about what that committee does, what some of the protocols for that committee are, and how they operate. I was fascinated, particularly as some of the thornier problems for chaplains were discussed----family members who want to override the patient's desire for DNR (do not resuscitate) orders or want to impose life-saving measures, however fruitless, on a loved one who has expressed different wishes but is now unable to speak for him/herself.

Surprisingly, despite the somewhat gloomy-sounding subject matter, I found my spirits lighter and my mood much elevated after the meeting. I was distracted, yes, from the band's problems, but it got me thinking about the much more important tasks in my life, the work I do with patients in the hospital every couple of weeks and the preparation tasks I do with my own aging congregation.

It kind of put things in better perspective; I could see that my asking for the topic had borne fruit and that all of the other chaplains and other attendees at the meeting were deeply engaged in the topic. If I had been downhearted earlier, that mood had been superseded by the sense of accomplishment I felt at the success of the session.

The band will get together tomorrow, start practicing again, and we will make some decisions about what our next steps will be.

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