Enabling mission and Christian living
Photo: Diana ‘Glowing for Kingston Hospital’ in August at a 5k fun run to raise funds to resource the new Chaplaincy Gathering Space.
‘Be Still and Know’
The pressure on Kingston Hospital over the summer has been relentless. The number of patients presenting at A&E continues to rise and flow through the hospital is blocked by lack of care provision in the community resulting in longer stays in hospital than are medically necessary. Frontline staff work long (12 hour) shifts and even experienced, resilient nurses have been described as looking ‘ashen’ by the Chair of the Board. Winter and flu seasons are just around the corner and uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit’s influence on the NHS remain … but God’s presence continues to bring courage and compassion into the situation.
I have continued to seek out ways to support staff that are workable in the hospital setting and effective at reducing stress and spiritual distress (like hopelessness or thinking, feeling and acting in ways that conflict with deeply held values). While on a ‘Christian Spirituality & Mindfulness Retreat’ earlier this year at the Jesuit centre St Bueno’s in Wales, led by priest and clinical psychologist Mark Williams, I discovered for myself how mindfulness enables a fuller life in the present. This simple yet profound practice allows being-mode to take precedence over doing-mode, giving relief to mind, body and spirit. A felt sense of being held by a power beyond the boundaries of self is often experienced, bringing new energy and a sense of deep peace. I recognise this as connection with the Holy Spirit, but God is good and those who do not yet know him feel it too.
Elements of mindfulness lasting five to thirty minutes are now becoming regular features of team meetings, wellbeing and resilience workshops and chapel services. In a context where many people have had nothing to do with the Church for at least two generations this experience can be deeply moving and encourages curiosity in the mysterious source of compassion. I am encouraged to see how God continues to use moments of stillness to draw people to him and am excited to further develop these opportunities.
Please join me in praying for hospital staff as they care for patients in difficult circumstances or work in back offices to maintain complex administrative and operational procedures. Give thanks that money was found for building works which has improved the environment for patients and provided a new Chaplaincy Gathering Space to allow much needed opportunities for staff health and wellbeing support. Pray that plans to recruit an Assistant Staff Wellbeing Chaplain will go ahead quickly as the potential of this specialist role is appreciated and drawn upon by staff at all levels of the organisation.