VOA Today: A message from our VOA Chaplain Donna Trabue

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

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From our March 23 D2 call 

O God, we come as a community living on the edge of the unknown. We know that in such times as this, we quickly imagine the worse, fear what lies ahead and worry we will be up to the task of what will be demanded of us. O God, we also know that when we do not have a clear understanding of what we face, we imagine the worse. And, today, at this moment, those feelings are okay. In the midst of all the swirling feelings, O God, we ask for a deep and settled peace; a knowledge that we must simply live our lives one moment at a time and we are not alone in that struggle. Social distancing may be called for physically but we are united in our commitment to care for each other; united in our determination to face the unknown with grace and grit; united in putting our best selves in to all that we must for our families, our neighbors and our work community. Help us, O God, to know we will be okay and we unite in our efforts to embrace needed change, together, one day at a time.

AMEN

Reverend Al Boyce, Chaplain

VOA Northern New England

What We Know and What We Don’t Know: A Word from the Chaplain

With what seems like hourly updates on Covid-19/Coronavirus situation, it can be challenging to keep up with the constant flow of information and know what to do and how to respond appropriately. Information is so helpful as it informs us and gives us guidance. I’m very grateful for the expertise of those in the medical profession who are sharing knowledge, yet it can feel pretty overwhelming and unsettling at times and this feels like one of those topsy-turvy times with a high level of uncertainty.

It is very easy to feel off-kilter, worried about the present and the future, and that we have very little control. Our normal routines allow us to function on near auto-pilot the majority of the time and we are never more keenly aware than in times like these that our routines serve us so well and bring us comfort and peace.

It is helpful and productive when routines are being changed or upended to acknowledge the feelings that we are having and name them for what they are as they are entirely understandable. We have normal human reactions to a new situation and that is reasonable. It is also helpful to recognize that individuals respond to information and their perception of it on a feelings level in different ways and all of those responses are valid and to be expected and accepted. Not everyone reacts the same, and all of us are doing our best to process what we are hearing in helpful ways.

I think it is helpful in times of uncertainty to acknowledge that we don’t know everything that we will know, and it is also helpful to remember and focus on what we do know.

Here’s what we do know:

We know that our staff and clients and their needs are important and we are perpetually responsive to that; we are unshakable in our resolve to create positive change with employees and the people we support. We know that our organizational founders, Ballington and Maud Booth, encountered tremendous uncertainties in their work in 1896 and beyond, including times of widespread illness, financial challenges, and events that caused upheaval. Yet in all those years, our founders and the ones who followed succeeded in carrying out our organizational mission - they demonstrated steadiness, calm in the face of fear and uncertainty, and unyielding commitment to their cause.

We know that we as employees can set this tone of steadiness, this commitment to calm and solution –focused problem-solving for our coworkers and the people we serve. We of course respond appropriately to the information we are receiving, as was evident in the policies and protocols communicated this week, and we maintain the calm that is so very important to our clients who crave and need stability. We do not add unnecessary additional drama to the current situation; we have a plan of response based on what we know and now each of us can and will demonstrate leadership as we respond diligently and appropriately to the situation with tenacious calm. This will be our touchstone as our clients look to us for cues on how to respond. Our organizational culture is one of positivity and compassion, and I call upon each of you to lead with these.

If you need some chaplaincy support in the coming days, that is what I am here for and please reach out to me at donnat@voamid.org or 502-636-4641 and I will be glad to listen and support you. In the nearly 32 years of being an employee of Volunteers of America Mid-States I have witnessed firsthand this organization proactively and calmly responding to so many high-stress situations of uncertainty with grace and tenacity; this is in our organizational DNA and we will persevere through this challenging time together. Of this, I know and am certain.