I’ve enjoyed serving as chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital for more than 12 years.
One of those enjoyments was hosting staff retreats called Renewal Days. During those retreats participants viewed a video by National Geographic award-winning photographer
Dewitt Jones called “For the Love of It.”
He encouraged us to “chase the light” when it came to loving what we do for a living. He knew that a good photo became a great photo when the light was right.
My wife snapped this photo of me April 2 facing the Sea of Galilee at mid-morning looking northwest toward the country of Lebanon. Galilee was where Jesus engaged in much of his early ministry. Jesus loved the light. He said, “I am the light of the world.” In another place he said, “You are the light of the world.”
Light has been a symbol of life-giving spirituality through generations and across cultures. Hence the phrase “their eyes lit up.” My eyes lit up over and over during those 10 days in Israel because I was heart-deep in a place that had mattered greatly to me all my adult life.
Dr. Frederic C. Craigie is a clinical psychologist and medical educator at Dartmouth Medical School. He identifies three ways which we can “chase the light” in our spiritual lives.
First, we practice personal spirituality as we connect with what matters to us. This has to do with purpose, character and commitment. The more intentional we are about this, the better. We can tell something meaningful is happening whenever there is passion and enthusiasm (i.e., inspired by a god). Here’s a way to start.
1. Write a paragraph or two about what or who got you where you are today. This will connect you to the power of gratitude.
2. Write your epitaph (and then live up to it.) This will connect you to the power of hope.
Second, we practice an engaged spirituality as we connect with what matters to others in your life. In the healthcare world, the central task is to understand and support the concerns of patients and families. It’s one thing to fix a broken arm in an efficient and effective manner. It is another thing to sense why that arm is important (a job that needs doing, a child who needs guidance, a spouse who needs hugging).
Many people express their spirituality in specific religious beliefs and practices. Others do not.
As a servant who seeks first to understand and then to be understood, I know that spiritual healing and growth begins when my spouse/child/neighbor trusts that I get what matters to them. Transformation starts there. Rather than giving quick advice, I help them know and own their hearts in a fresh way.
Thirdly, we practice corporate spirituality as we connect with the energy we share with people around us. This could be in a family, a workplace, a church, or a whole city or nation. Any intentional grouping of people has a “soul.” We usually call it the environment, atmosphere, tone or culture.
It is crucial to know what your family is about, what your company values or how your nation sees its calling in the world. We may be the middle child, the newest hire or the oldest resident on the block. Whoever we are, we can tend the tribal fire by recommitting to a sense of mission, respecting and empowering each other and cultivating a spirit of community and caring. Sooner or later, others who share our heart will find us, and things will change.
Shabbat shalom. I have another photo of our last evening in Galilee. I shared more pictures recently at a noontime event at Hancock Regional Hospital.
Thanks for reading!
Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. He enjoys golf, old movies, reading and celebrating life with his wife and children. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.