“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” ~ Booker T. Washington.
When you graduate from nursing school, you get a Pinning ceremony. This is separate and apart from the more familiar graduation event, that comes with cap and gown, in a huge auditorium, shared with students you may not know. For nursing students, Pinning is a special, cosy, touching ceremony. Dressed in nurses’ whites, with the traditional nursing cap hardly seen today, shoes spanking white, the outfit is a far cry from today’s assortment of colorful scrubs and sneakers.
The ceremony is designed to be a moment of recognition of what it took to get to this point, and an acknowledgment of the responsibility and privilege of the profession you are entering. If you are lucky, the guest speaker will be personal and memorable. But the power comes in the moment when each student comes up to be pinned, and her/his dedication is read. A flower is handed to the ‘pinnee’ who then passes it to that special person in their life. The ubiquitous photographer takes the usual poses, while the crowd listens, teary eyed, to the words of the dedication.
This week marked such a ceremony. As a nursing instructor you get to attend several of these events a year, and each one is different and special, marked by the personality of the cohort which is graduating. This week we witnessed the pinning ceremony of a unique and small group of pinnees, four women who came together not as a cohort of students, but as a group of sisters. Through the year the number of tragedies and personal crises that they had to overcome were significant, enough to make most people throw in the towel.
For the instructors, we watched the ceremony in amazement, as we saw four poised and mature young women who presented themselves as professionals; gave acceptance speeches that did us proud, and demonstrated that we had done much more than impart information about the human body, diseases and medications.
Sometimes we get hung up on agenda, about what it is we hope to accomplish, and we forget the other person in the equation. While we are busy making sure that we bring about this and cause that, the person on the receiving end of our intention has their own goals and dreams. When we forget to listen, when we are focused on our desires, we run the risk of being greatly disappointed. We become frustrated that this stubborn and recalcitrant other, is not behaving as we wish them to. It happens in relationships, it happens at work, it happens as we drive in rush hour traffic. There is a saying that people of faith use: “Let go and let God”, a reminder that when we place our problems on this divine Other, we are then supposed to let them go. Usually we proceed to worry them to death, convinced that by keeping the problems at the forefront of our mind we are somehow going to change outcomes.
I have attended several training sessions in a healing modality known as Therapeutic Touch, a practice which is based on the belief that we all have channels of energy flowing through us, that can get blocked or disturbed. By performing a simple act of ‘clearing’ the practitioner can help to bring about decrease in symptoms and those who receive it report a feeling of calmness and often have a good night’s sleep following a session. One of the things we are taught to do before beginning a session is to take a moment to center yourself, and make sure that you are coming to the session with no agenda. The goal is that the person who is receiving Therapeutic Touch will receive whatever it is they need, not what you intend for them to gain. This again goes back to letting go; letting go of your own ego, your own desires, letting things flow freely without manipulation. But what you can bring to the interaction is an intentionality, a desire that whatever the outcome, it will be for the recipient’s greatest good.
If we are lucky, we get to see the results of our actions and interactions with others, but it should not be necessary, if our intentions were honorable. When we try to manipulate others, when we are devious or ego-centered, we often get what we deserve. It is a hard lesson to learn, to remember that everyone is the center of their own universe, that others are not here merely to support our leading role.
This morning I honor the four pinnees who are setting off on a new journey. Of course they still have to pass the challenging NCLEX exam; the road ahead may be bumpy, with many more lessons to learn. But for those of us who witnessed their rite of passage, and let our mouths drop open and our tears fall as they gave such mature and appreciative speeches, we have been lifted up. We have been reminded that if you do your best and work for the good of another, you will receive blessings whether directly or indirectly.
This Fabulous Friday morning I ask for those who know my mother to send up prayers of healing for her. She broke her right arm the other day which has severely hampered her independence. As you can imagine, that is very difficult for her.
May you all have a wonderful weekend, and may you be blessed to know how you affect the lives of others, and how your life is affected in return.