March 2020 E-News
In Times of Pain
"I'm struck by how sharing our weaknesses and difficulties
 is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes."
Jean Vanier - Community and Growth
This year Lumunos is doing a deep dive on relationship paradoxes. We are exploring the idea that relationships require self sacrifice and self care; fighting for what is important and letting go and compromising; play/joy and being with each other in painful and challenging times. In this month’s e-news and LumZoom call we look at the last of those topics: how do we accompany each other in these painful and challenging COVID-19 times?

With that as backdrop, I’m going to get very practical and specific. Would you be willing to write a note of encouragement to a health care provider?

For the past decade, Lumunos has had the privilege of working with physicians, nurses, and other health care providers. We have done that as an extension of our mission to support people as they seek to live their calling. The work involves facilitating meetings in hospitals, creating space for health care providers to talk about the challenges and joys of their work. It has been a privilege and honor to accompany these men and women as they bear the burdens of their patients. 

As you know, these health care workers are currently on the very front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Putting patients first is what they do. But they are also humans with the same fears and anxieties we have. Here are just a few things they are thinking and feeling:

“I have a family that I’m coming home to. And I have to keep them safe. That’s been the concern among my colleagues: What are you going to do with your family? It’s on all of our minds. It’s certainly adding to our stress.”

“As a health-care provider, if I test positive, it has big implications for my office, my staff, and all the patients. There’s also this obligation that my co-workers and I feel: ‘If I’m well enough, I should go to work.’ I have a mission. It makes it really hard for any of us to sit on the sidelines.”

“The feeling I have is frustration. We’re at this point where we’re going into conservation mode [even before the crisis hits]. And then it’s just waiting for the inevitable.”

“I am just trying to accept that bad things will happen so I’m not surprised.”
(“The Biggest Worries for Doctors Fighting the Pandemic,” Mike Giglio, The Atlantic, March 23, 2020)

Thank you notes mean more if there is a personal connection. So if you already have a relationship with a nurse or physician, you might choose to write them. If not, and if you feel so moved, write a simple note of thanks, encouragement, or gratitude. Send it to me at the email address below and I will make sure it gets to one of the nurses, doctors or nurse practitioners we work with. Thank you for this small act of kindness—I know they will appreciate it.
Doug sig
Prayer for my Father's Flight

After my mother died, I began what turned out to be a long, mostly leisurely, sometimes difficult, but always holy walk with my father through the last twelve years of his life. That walk both deepened and stretched our relationship. There were wonderful times—the familiar rotation of family birthdays, a couple of unique trips abroad, shared meals listening to parts of his story I’d not heard before. It was easy to see those moments as holy.

There were also difficult times, especially in the last two years: moving him from independent to assisted living; convincing him to give up his car; getting him to accept a move into the health care wing of the progressive care facility he had chosen as his home after Mother’s death. Yet even those hard moments were sacred, for they were part of the winding down of my father’s life, a long life well lived. 
There was also the matter of his failing short term memory, frequently a source of anxiety for him and sometimes for me, too. I made him what we jokingly called a “Reality-Check Book”—a three-ring binder with plastic sleeves of photos and information about his children and grandchildren, places he had lived and worked, things he had done. I also included photographs of Mother and of some of his friends. Another page reassured him that his finances were in order, that my brother and I had his checkbook and were paying his bills. I told the staff about the Reality-Check Book so they could refer him to it when he became confused or anxious.

His last eight weeks were the hardest. A series of strokes made it difficult for him to walk, then to feed himself, then to swallow even pureed foods. I visited nearly every day at dinner hour to try to feed him, reassure him, walk with him through several WWI flashbacks. He had never talked about the war, so I didn’t know much about his experiences. The flashbacks frightened both of us. But they too were sacred moments. Be not afraid, I kept telling both of us.   

I stayed by his side his last three days. By then, he was not eating, drinking, or speaking, but he could hear. For long stretches, I was silent, reading or crocheting. Sometimes I talked, telling him I loved him, thanking him for all he had given me, the lessons he had taught me—including how to age gracefully. I also read to him from a book of poetry he and my mother had given me that included poems I knew he loved. I read them over and over. At one point, he became agitated. The nurses couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say, but I knew: He wanted me to leave, to go home and tend to my family. “No, Dad,” I said. “I want to be with you. My family is fine. I am staying here.”

Early in the evening of the night he died, my brother and husband came. They turned on the TV to watch a basketball game in which Dad’s alma mater was playing. I later wrote a poem about that time, itself a holy night. Here’s how the poem ends:  
            Too weak to watch, my father listened.
I knew from the way his lips moved once or twice,
the game was better than medicine:
Again he was one of the guys immersed in locker room energy,
fierce and proud, not an old man dying in front of his daughter's eyes.
           Tech won. The guys said good-bye and bowed out.
           I read him some poems then lowered the light,
kissed him, and nodded off. While I dozed, he took flight. 

Angier Brock
Reflection Question
When has someone walked with you in a time of pain? What was most helpful about their presence?
Crossing the River 2020:
An Online Retreat About Navigating Change and Disorientation in a Time of Pandemic
March 28, 2020

For more information and to register:
Making Space for Sadness and Pain:
An online conversation about accompanying others through challenging times
March 30, 2020

For more information and to register:
Denver Area Women's Retreat
Unleashing Your Inner Power:
Exploring Healing, Mysticism, and Creativity
June 5-7, 2020*

For more information:
To register: CLICK HERE
*In the case of cancellation or date change due to Covid-19, all monies will be refunded.
Denver Area Half-Day Retreat
The Space Between Us:
Strengthening Our Relationships for the Good of the World  
June 20, 2020 (hopefully!)

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Doug Wysockey-Johnson     
Dan Quinlan  
Rebecca Perry-Hill