Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Early Recollections: Blog 2


I have a book on my shelf entitled, My Voice will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson. This was edited and with commentary by Sidney Rosen. That is a fascinating concept.

I agree even more, Christ and the Holy Spirit and the image of God the Father were implanted long ago. All go with me. We are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses whose journey continues in us and from time to time they are more present with us in a conscious way, and their voice is present in us. Their voice in Scripture will go with you.

Rereading a chapter in Adler on Early Recollections he says our early recollections go with us. The early recollections we choose is because the recollection is already at work in us as our pattern for experiencing and living. These early recollections often require a reinterpretation to keep us from making mistakes. We can have mistaken interpretations. Reinterpreting an early recollection can make a difference.

When I shared my early recollection with the therapist, Willard Beecher, I was wondering if my ministry was headed for the ditch. The conflict within the parish had me raising that question and doubting my vocation. For stress management I was spending several summers as night chaplain at Bellevue hospital to test out my vocation as a hospital chaplain. The second summer I added a month to supply at Goldwater Hospital, a chronic illness and long-term disability hospital.

The conflict raised my inferiority feelings to high alert. Al Hart, my Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor knew an Adlerian would be the counselor for the situation. Two outcomes were the result. I was more at peace going back to the conflict situation. I needed to come to terms with what I had control over rather than assign myself control over the conflict.

I decided chaplaincy would be my choice in the future. That decision also added to my inner peace. This was the summer of 1961. By February 15 of 1962 I was in a new congregation, Trinity Cathedral, Davenport, as the Christian Education director. The Dean of the Cathedral asked me to come to Davenport to be the chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital in the coming future. In January of 1964 I started half time at the hospital as the first resident chaplain.

The truth of the sessions in New York brought out another story that fit with the early recollection. The story had already been “my voice will go with you.” I had already dealt with a two steering wheel situation  and come to a resolution. Sometime between 12/13 years of age while living in West Liberty, Iowa, I belonged to two gangs. Gangs were quite different then. They were more of a close friendship peer group. One group was from the wealthier members of the community, most played in the school band. Although I came from a much poorer family my father was a musician and had me taking clarinet lessons. The other group was from the south side of the tracks literally. West Liberty was a railroad town with tracks and trains going both north and south and east and west. I enjoyed this group since we would walk along the tracks and find half burnt out flares. One of the group had a rifle that used 22 caliber short. We would shoot cans off the fence post. Since my father was not a hunter this filled a void.

Now the crisis came when the leader of the elite group said I had to fight the president of the south of the tracks group, to prove my allegiance to elite group. I wasn’t allowed to be in both groups. You will divulge our secrets. I have no memory of what they were. The necessity of a fight became a reality one day in the spring when the grass was just getting green between two houses. My resolution to avoid a fight, spur of the moment, was to talk my way out and leave both groups. I became friends with all individually. This was a very conscious conclusion that has stayed with me all through life. I do not belong to many groups. I have a number of individual friends. When I became a chaplain this realization worked well. I could relate to folks in every department and position, patients, family, friends, and staff as an individual.

How about the funny part with people laughing in the theatre. Maybe not a huge laugh, but it is worth a smile. The recollection has more value and relevance for me as a recollection. I have no desire to see the movie to learn what happens next. What happens next is when the recollection returns again and again in some form in my life and it does. My recollection will go with me. And I no longer duck down between the seats as you will see in future reflections.

Marlin Whitmer

Founder of the Befrienders and the Art of Story Metaphor Listening.

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