Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Promise of Spring...

I encountered these crocuses under a tree by the lake yesterday, a reminder of the hope and the promise of Spring.

I think that early recovery from Compassion Fatigue is a little like the coming of spring. The signs of early recovery are subtle at first - being wakened one morning by a whisper of optimism, hearing yourself laughing for the first time in a very long while, feeling a longed-for gathering of energy and interest. Gradually the bud inside you begins to swell and grow, creating the new weller-than-well person you are becoming.

The process of recovery is not a direct line from A to B though, rather, a meandering route of two steps forward and one step back. As James E. Miller says of Spring in Winter Grief, Summer Grace:

This season cannot be all brightness and glow, however. You still feel sad sometimes.
You get caught off guard by sudden rushes of painful emotions.  That's the nature of 
Spring - The gradual warming punctuated by brief stabs of chill. Yet as you  let your 
feelings evolve in ways most fitting to you, you promote the natural unfolding of your 
grief, the natural unfolding of your life.

He goes on to describe this natural unfolding in more detail:

You can begin to direct more and more what is happening around you.

You can decide about those things you want to start doing again.

You can experiment with things you've never tried before, realizing that something
within you now is eager to try.

You can begin to turn your attention more to others,
offering what you have to give, welcoming what is there to receive.

You have every reason to do both,
and every right.

In fact, James Miller is speaking about the process of recovery from bereavement but I believe he's got it right for those of us recovering from compassion fatigue as well. There is a seasonal flow to both experiences and the season of Spring brings the warmth, showers, budding and blossoming that equate to the Springtime of our recovery.

Most of you who have heard me speak more than once, know that I use a beautiful haiku by Jean Little, as a closing for all my workshops.  Over the years it has become my "signature", a blessing for those courageous enough to be beginning their own recovery. It goes like this:


I feel like the ground in winter,
Hard, cold, dark, dead, unyielding,
Then hope pokes through me like a crocus.

So, bouquets of crocuses to each of you as you take the next step toward recovering from the
"gift" of compassion fatigue.

* Both books I've quoted today would make beautiful gifts for yourself or for someone you
love. Winter Grief, Summer Grace has wonderful photographs and poignant prose with
unintrusive Christian overtones and Hey World, Here I Am! by Jean Little makes a
great gift for an adolescent or pre-adolescent girl - or anyone who ever was one!





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