malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Month: August 2009

Leaving Clinic

Just yesterday, I wrote the following message to my colleagues at The 1917 Clinic after 15 and 1/2 years:

Malcolm MarlerPlease forgive my mass email but it seems to be the best way to get the news out to everyone at the same time. This will allow me time to talk with many of you over the next month individually.

I want you to know that I have accepted a new position as Director of Pastoral Care at the hospital. My last work day at the clinic will be Friday, September 25th. I will take a week of vacation and then start on Monday, October 5th at the hospital.

This position is an exciting and challenging opportunity for me to explore how we can integrate spirituality and health through one-on-one care, education, and community outreach throughout the Health System for staff and patients. I hope you will be able to celebrate this new opportunity with me.

On the other hand, there is of course grief on my part as leaving the clinic becomes a reality. I want to say to each of you that The 1917 Clinic has been my family over the last 15 and 1/2 years. Our clinic is a unique, remarkable, healing and compassionate community (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) for our patients.

I am especially indebted to Mike Saag for having the vision to create a position for a Chaplain in an HIV Clinic in 1994. He was the first in the United States to do so. Jim Raper has also been the finest supervisor and director a person could ask for in the last few years. I could go on and on but I will stop for now.

I look forward to saying thank you to you individually as much as possible in the weeks ahead. While change is hard, it is also filled with opportunity. I hope to embrace the sadness of leaving and the excitement of beginning as fully as possible.

And the good news is I will just be four blocks away.

Thank you and peace to you all,
I will write more about embracing goodbyes in the days ahead.

The Four Feelings of Life

100_4474I learned early in my Clinical Pastoral Education training that there are only four basic feelings we have in life–Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid.

The advantage of knowing this is the sooner I can name the feeling I am having, the easier it is for me to talk about it.   I don’t have to understand why I am having the feeling, or if I “should” be having the feeling, or whether I  “ought” to be having it.  I don’t have to worry if it is justified?  It doesnt’ matter.  Is it rational?  Makes no difference.

And of course, sometimes I forget what I already know about feelings entirely.  Just ask Mary, and she will nod her head.

We use a lot of words to describe the way we feel, but ultimately, whatever the feelings are, they are siblings of the above four.

Whatever I feel, I know now that I am not alone. I am convinced there is a Presence  that understands exactly what I am feeling, better than I do.  Some people call this Presence the Creator, the Sacred, the Great or Holy Spirit, Higher Power, Jehovah, Lord, Jesus, or God.  So when I wonder if anyone in the universe understands what I am feeling, I know there is One who already does.  We are not alone, though we feel it often.  This companionship, grace, or love is a great mystery to me.  The only response I know to give is  “thank you” and receive it.

And so, I am trying more and more to just “feel what I am feeling when I feel it.”  This is my new mantra.  I am trying to learn how to name the feeling I am having before I explain it away in my head.  Once I name it, I can add other adjectives, stories, and life experiences to help me understand it better.

On August 5th, 2009, I feel GLAD. I am thankful that I am loved by this Great Mysterious One, and that I am not alone.  I cannot say all of the reasons I feel glad today, because I don’t know all of the reasons I’m feeling glad.  That’s ok, I will just feel it.  I don’t have to explain or rationalize what I am feeling.  Feelings just are what they are and what I do with them and how I communicate with others about them, are my choice.  Feelings are also my teacher about myself and others, if I will be the student and let my feelings teach me about me.

So today, I am at peace even while the waters are being stirred all around me.

And for that, I am profoundly thankful, which of course is a direct descendant of glad.

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