She was due to come home any minute. Eager to see her I had cookies fresh out of the oven. The candle in the bay window above my kitchen sink burned sweetly and twinkle lights lined the entrance to the mudroom. Her sisters were coloring contentedly at the homework table nearby and her favorite tunes were streaming into the room. The garage door was open so when the neighbor dropped her off she could walk right in the back door and be immersed in the coziness we had waiting for her. My girl loves school so I couldn’t wait to hear all about her day.
As I diced the carrots I was prepping for dinner the back door flew open as she threw her backpack down and began ranting about her day. I hadn’t had a chance to poor her a cup of milk before she was in tears. I rushed over and hugged her as she sobbed and slowly told me about what was bothering her. My plans didn’t matter; she needed a safe place to let it all out. She found it with me.
When the Mudroom first opened its door, just under a year ago, we said:
Whatever junk you’re carrying with you, you can leave it here. However much a mess you are today, the mudroom is here for you, a place to drop all the other selves we are constantly putting on and taking off, a place to catch your breath as your soul catches up with you.
And we mean it.
Each month we write on a different theme, allowing our writers to share bits of themselves. They enter the Mudroom and find a safe place to put their things down; a place filled with people waiting and listening. But sometimes when we enter we have a lot with us. Anger, frustration, disappointment. Sometimes our passion is overflowing and we just need to let it out.
This is where Free Write Fridays come in.
Sometimes it is the news of a twelve-year-old boy shot without any accountability. A tenured professor being suspended and fired. Protests. Gun control. Orphan care. Refugees. Elections. Brutality. Neighborhood violence. Poverty. Homelessness. Education. Creation care. Abortion.
There is just. so. much.
Each Friday, off script, someone is going to share. They are going to walk into this safe place and they are going to tell us what is hurting them. They are going to share the thing that keeps them up at night, and we will be here to listen, to open our ears and hearts to them and say, “We see you. We hear you.” They might challenge us. They might share something diametrically different than you believe. But we will be open to what God is stirring in them and affirm it.
What do you need to say? Find your place here.
- What I Want Them to Remember - February 22, 2019
- When God Talks to Me at the Pool - July 16, 2018
- No One Belongs Here More Than You - April 27, 2018
One thought on “Free Write Fridays”
Mary E. Latela
February: Vocation, Career, Mission
I ask my student-nurses whether they consider their training and work to be a career or a calling. What I hear are the extremes… there are some people for whom healthcare is a good career fit, well-paying, with great benefits and job security. There are others who have something extra, perhaps a quality that was in seed for a long time, and which began to bud and flourish once they started to work with others. They can’t imagine doing any other work.
They love their patients, are patient with the more demanding, and they look
after their co-workers, too.
Working at a job you love is a luxury these days. Dedication to care, timeliness, exactitude, are precious commodities in every market. And then you go home to your family, rest up before the next shift.
Living a vocation, or call, means that it’s down in your bones – you must be of service. This is your life, no matter which paths you follow. This is not the dysfunctional type of “robot” who makes herself indispensable in order to win honor and attention. This is a person – a
real, feeling, thinking person – who has a proper perspective of her place in
the world. And she know when to say “no.”
We hear too much about burnout, and it’s a true, difficult ailment, very debilitating. Ys, I have been down with burnout and with the help of friends and a very healing environment, I got better. The important part was avoiding isolation when I wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere. Sometimes the emotional demands of the job hurt too much, or the physical body cannot meet the necessary demands. Unfortunately, it’s more often the dedicated servant who succumbs to burnout, which is why self-care is SO important. Whether you were taught, as I was, that women are supposed to sacrifice themselves for everyone else…. Whether you are driven by a need to excel, to be in charge, to accept nothing but perfection. In either case, you need to STOP.
I did not use the term “god” on purpose, because I believe that all kinds of people give their lives to service because they just need to. I don’t think it’s about religion. It is about tenacity, about seeing a need and trying to help, about managing the hills and valleys of life without
falling off your bike too often. It demands a company of friends to lean on and who lean on you. Isolation doesn’t work in a team sport, or a team job like nursing. Of course I have deep emotions in my work. My heart nearly breaks at the unnecessary pain and suffering of people I meet. I brush away tears sometimes, too. However, I know there is a font of strength inside me, to hold me up, to keep me going, and to help me if I should slip. That strength is not just mine alone – I share it with all those who are committed to mending the world a little at a time.
I believe that the Mudroom is not a collection of isolated stories, deep and transformative though they may be. It is about bringing together the narrators of those stories so that – knowing what they know and having lived what they have lived – we can build a wholesome, sustainable community.
p.s. I am not a nurse. I am a teacher.