Friday, March 29, 2019

Doing Life Together

The Mystery within...
Doing life together transforms us from human doings into human beings. And since each of us have unique personalities (think Meyers-Briggs), and each of us are uniquely spiritual (think Enneagram), learning our different approaches to life can bring us closer to the Great Mystery who created it all--our diverse natural world and us. The original design is for nature and humanity to work in tandem—to do life together.  I believe this understanding is our greatest challenge.   

Thoughts of doing life together bubbled up in me after reading the best summary of the Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) I have ever seen by a CPE student, Sister Denise West, a Benedictine at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI. I was recently at Holy Wisdom Monastery, not for a presentation on CPE, but on Native American Patty Lowe’s presentation titled, “Ethics of Indigenous Cultures of Wisconsin.” Putting some of Sister Denise’s CPE summary thoughts alongside thoughts from Patty Lowe’s presentation struck me as a template for doing life together.

A major part of CPE training (which I experienced in the late 1990s and early 2000s) is a group critique by fellow students and the CEP instructor, of our individual written verbatim reports of interactions with patients. These words from Sr. Denise’s CPE summary brought back vivid memories of struggle and growth from my four CPE units:

… we would reflect on the interaction to see not how we could have done things better, but how we could have done things differentlyThis framing freed me to scrutinize how I encountered those in need. I had to learn to let go of my agenda when I walked into a patient’s room and let the patient’s needs unfold before me. In my best moments, I was a companion on a path we co-created."

Patty Lowe’s presentation at Holy Wisdom Monastery shared her Native American Seventh Generation Philosophy that decisions made today should be in the best interest of seven generations into the future.  She spoke of current threats to the environment, and to we who inhabit it, including the adverse effects of mining and pipelines both under the earth and in Lake Superior. She said care of the earth is the most important thing we can do in life--we need to change our relationship with nature and can no longer put profit over planet.  She spoke of her love of nature, the Rights of Nature Movement, and asked, “What if we believed nature loved us back?”

Care for one another, and Mother Earth, calls us all to reflect on how we can each do things differently, to see what agendas we need to let go of, and discover how we can become companions with one another on a path we co-create to sustain Mother Earth and us today, tomorrow and seven generations into the future.     

What if doing life together makes us all CPE students to one another and Mother Earth?