Saturday, May 27, 2017

Connecting the Dots

Before Steve Jobs gave his famous “Connecting the Dots” talk at Stanford University the Befrienders and the Pastoral Care team at St. Luke’s Hospital were using the term.

It came about in this way.

The Befriender Model was set within a Three-fold action for relationships to move to a deeper level of understanding. As in Steve Jobs' talk, the dots were not all that connected when we began. I found instructions for the dots in the pages of the Bible.  They appeared to me in the 10th chapter of Luke where Jesus sends out the 70. They began with a briefing, then the mission, and upon returning, debriefing. I decided this would be our model.

Our briefing began in chapel with shortened Morning Prayer, the readings from the Daily Office for that day were discussed, and prayer followed.  Patient visiting assignments were handed out at the end and the visitation mission began. Upon their return later in the morning the Befriender wrote up a short report of the visit. The report was used for their debriefing with one of the chaplains before leaving the hospital. 

In the beginning we called the three fold action “trialoguing” for the three separate conversations. Then came the revelation as parts of the stories began to connect. As Jobs says, it is in looking back that you begin to see how they connect. A Befriender looking back said she preferred “connecting the dots” to “Trialoguing.” We changed.

Often the connection involves resistance somewhere. In the beginning a number of Befrienders resisted chapel, they came to visit. They changed when they found a connection between the Scripture story, the patient’s story, and their story.

Often there was resistance within the Scripture stories, and words like stubborn and stiff neck would be heard.

There was often an Aha! when the three fold revealed a new insight during the debriefing.

When the befriender gave the patient summary report they would often say, “not much happened in the visit.” That was a challenge for me. One time the report said, “Farmers have it all over city folk who work inside. They know on a given day what they will do. The farmer has to be aware of the weather. He can’t plan in the same way.”  The surprise came when I told the Befriender, “since you didn’t know his diagnosis you wouldn’t know he told you how he was going to live with his illness. Just like he lives with the unpredictable weather.”

I could tell many more stories and I will at different times as this blog continues. More importantly, I hope you have your own stories for connecting the dots. It is part of doing “reflective listening” or what I like to call “reflective practice.”

Give your self time to reflect back and see how the thread of purpose and meaning appears in new and different ways.

It is my belief the Advocate, the Holy Spirit alongside, paraclyte, is a Presence with us on our journey, aiding connecting before we understand. The Greek word susnesis often translated understand, can also be translated connect. We are continually connecting in new and different ways.

Marlin Whitmer

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