Tag Archives: litany

Meeting the moment 2021 #46

While having some acupuncture treatment this week I asked what a couple of extra needles were for and was told just to keep up your amazing-ness. While I laughed the placebo effect of those words still makes me smile, something to help with your general everyday amazingness sounds pretty good to me!  We are all amazing and to celebrate and support that in one another is the act of beautiful witness. Goes beyond the general everyday act of witness, to see beyond surviving to thriving, beyond grief to see seeds of resurrection, to see beyond happiness to bountiful joy.  Noticing the deeply embedded kernels inside all of us being coaxed out by witnesses and our ability to be witnessed is mutuality whole hearted.

When the  winds of discomfort are blowing and you are being bustled along like the proverbial tumbleweed in a desert, tossed around and repeating endless circles, getting to a destination that is scenically not any different to where you started – even that can be celebrated as letting go – enabling the elements to hold you until you are able, ready or perhaps better equipped to unravel into something new.

This week, noticing how I witness and am witnessed, is a litany of generosity: the holding, with such gentle kindness, of a chicken for her wings to be clipped, a photo of a calm sea being sent to a friend who is unsettled after missing out on getting an opportunity to move to another job, skipping down a corridor in a silent celebration of news of a friend getting a new job which means her life will change, meandering into a conversation about music and being heard, quietly sitting to listen to a favourite poet with favourite friends, receiving a caution instead of a fine and demerit points for travelling too fast along the road close to home, to hear myself into speech as I was being interviewed for a podcast, to sit in conversation with a lake while waiting to eavesdrop on a regional community, to delight and press send on a contribution to regenerative farmers, walking through a school that will soon be community to 400 families and feeling the excitement and anticipation of the midwifes. There is so much generosity inside us to give and even more to receive. This is the currency of exchange that fills my wellbeing bank and not the least the act of being generous with ourselves.

David Whyte writes:  Every transformation has at its heart the need to ask for the right kind of generosity. The currency of exchange happens in the act of giving and fills my wellbeing bank, and every act of receiving does not make a withdrawal, it feels more like compound interest. I think the prescription for feeling lost or abandoned is to invite yourself into generosity, gift your time, your talents, your energy to another, to a cause, to the environment.  When I worked as CEO for Volunteering SA & NT we would always be noticing how quickly people improved their mental and physical health, their sense of belonging and improved their skills once they started volunteering. Going beyond yourself has medicinal properties and helps to create the everyday general amazingness in each other. This is the never ending reminder to me of the call and response, in the last line of this poem by Whyte, to find a way to die of generosity, is to live from the abundance you have inside of you.

MY COURAGEOUS LIFE

has gone ahead

and is looking back

calling me on.

My courageous life

has seen everything

I have been

and everything

I have not

and has

forgiven me,

day after day.

My courageous life

still wants

my company:

wants me to

understand

my life as witness

and thus

bequeath me

the way ahead.

My courageous life

has the patience

to keep teaching me,

how to invent

my own

disappearance,

and how

once gone,

to reappear again.

My courageous life

wants to stop

being ahead of me

so that it can lie

down and rest

deep inside the body

it has been

calling on.

My courageous life

wants to be

my foundation,

showing me

day after day

even against my will

how to undo myself,

how to surpass myself,

how to laugh as I go

in the face

of danger,

how to invite

the right kind

of perilous

love,

how to find

a way

to die

of generosity.

My Courageous Life

A new adaption of ‘Second Life’

in Pilgrim

Poems by David Whyte

© Many Rivers Press and David Whyte

Photo by cyrus gomez on Unsplash

Promises to tomorrow #30 #Litany

My promise to tomorrow is to spend time when I have some more tomorrows to give some very direct feedback to systems that aren’t working for me right now. I only have energy for litanies – supplications, invocations, recitals where the call goes out and the faintest response hangs in the air not quite landing into resolution.

The systems failure litany goes on an on: carelessness, lack of problem-solving. A piece of equipment essential for life failed this week and one out of four hospitals contacted offered a solution (an expensive one, but a solution to get us through to the next step), the provider of the piece of failed equipment fell at every single hurdle. First the technician was on a cruise and his Dad who knew how to service but not fix was unable the help, then the promise of a replacement arriving was not fulfilled in the timeline offered, failure to return call with correct information and we are now living in hope this new timeline might be able to be fulfilled in the next 24 hours … I have lost trust and confidence … so let’s wait and see. It is difficult, and in a first world system, I am struggling to see why it is so difficult. I would have thought at these times support, efforts to the edges would be standard and not above and beyond the call of duty. I get to the point when someone, just doing the job they are paid to do in a timely manner, makes me want to send them flowers and chocolates as they are shine out from the rest.

I started my professional life as a social worker in a psycho-geriatric team and there I learnt so many things about creativity, regular and reliable reviews, the relationship between pharmacology and well-being, how to listen and observe, how to be in a multi-disciplinary team, how to advocate, when to be pragmatic, what to let go of and what to hang on to. Every day I let those learnings rise up and wonder whatever happened to our health system and all the intersecting and moving parts? It was a terrible system then, but we all worked together as a professional team to challenge it, make it better, undermine it, conspired to get new rules … we never lost sight of the most vulnerable person at the centre. It was truly a great place to learn and to make a difference. The people who I served didn’t even know most of the time due to their cognitive state, so we worked hard to take their cues and look at their past life to guide our decision making, listen to old friends, neighbours or family members if they had any (which wasn’t often).

When under stress I make mistakes and I accept mistakes and imperfections, we are all human … but these compound fractures are unnecessary and cause more stress for those who are least able to have more at this time in their lives.

When my tomorrow comes I am going to spend some of the days offering up unsolicited fearless and frank advice with courage and compassion, and a hint of the memory of my worst self.

Litany of my worst self

For when I want the share price to drop for the company whose piece of equipment failed and then their support failed further.

Lord have mercy

For when I want the complaints department officer who didn’t return my three calls for further information to have to give evidence in a parliamentary enquiry and be chased by a TV crew down the road.

Christ have mercy

For when I want the staff member at a country Victorian hospital to be subjected to a black out and a failed generator at their most vulnerable moment.

Lord have mercy

For when I want the doctor who wasn’t brave enough to be honest to be faced with some hard truths at a medical tribunal hearing.

Christ have mercy

For when I want to leave my best self behind and embrace my energy zapping worst self.

Lord have mercy.

Litany to any worker in the health system

Do your job.

We beseech you

Know your role and accept your responsibilities.

We beseech you

Help enable the system to work.

We beseech you

Actively disable the system not working.

We beseech you

Ask yourself: Is there anything else I can do to help here?

We beseech you

Be kind.

We beseech you

Be patient.

We beseech you

Be compassionate.

We beseech you

Pick up the phone.

We beseech you

Return my call.

We beseech you

Read the signs.

We beseech you

Listen.

We beseech you

image-24