AWBA exists to provide spiritual care to those living with a chronic diagnosis and the people who support them. I am often asked what we mean by “spiritual care.” The thought of trying to respond in writing rather than in face-to-face dialogue is a bit daunting. However, I suspect some of you wonder and don’t ask the question, so I hope to clear up assumptions or misunderstanding while not creating new questions. Let’s see how I do ...
AWBA respects those impacted by a chronic diagnosis
~ who are seekers either unsure of what they believe and open to dialogue, or certain of what they believe and open to expanding their existing beliefs;
~ who thought they knew what they believed until their worst nightmare became reality and find themselves questioning what they used to hold as truth;
~ who know what they believe and have had their beliefs strengthened through the struggle; and
~ who are too weary to even ask the questions, and seek a place to be still until the time comes to know the questions to be asked.
We are each a physical and spiritual being. Our physical selves are the piece diagnosed with all sorts of medical scenarios, and it is our physical self that carries the full reality of living with that diagnosis. If you are the one diagnosed, you are poked, prodded, scanned, biopsied, and monitored by medical professionals. You have your health insurance company and a long list of specialists on speed dial. You do all of this while trying to maintain some semblance of daily life routine in the midst of shifting sands. If you are a spouse, family member or friend providing support, you witness all of this for a loved one. You do what you can to relieve a bit of the load (sometimes living far away) while often feeling inadequate, exhausted from the effort, and guilty asking for help for yourself. If you are a professional caregiver, you intersect these stories at a place where you have been trained and equipped. Since you are being paid for that effort, shouldn’t you keep your weariness to yourself and push through? Sometimes you can do that without losing the compassion that brought you to the field in the first place. And sometimes, regretfully, you make a career change not knowing what else to do at the end of caregiving career burn out.
Our spiritual selves are the other piece of the life picture. It is the piece that tries to make sense of the struggle, wonder about the unanswerable “why", find a life balance and support system to help all the moving parts remain in sync, and identify someone or something beyond your human self to provide comfort, support and wisdom when the darkness threatens to overwhelm during the more difficult times. Internationally known psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl endured three years of horror in Nazi death camps and survived to share his wisdom in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He writes,
The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.
How we respond to what life does to us seems to be an attitude of spirit rather than a physical choice. This is the place AWBA desires to touch within the small and large challenges of those impacted by a chronic diagnosis. We seek to provide a safe and supportive community that invites your spirit to grow beyond the seeming limitations of a particular diagnosis, whatever your role may be in that journey. AWBA’s online retreats and in-person workshops are offered as places of hope, authenticity, and confidential support. Although some programs focus on the specific challenges of living with a chronic condition, many do not dwell in that place. It is our intent to provide experiences that leave ample room for joy, community, and a strong sense of tomorrow.
Spiritual care provided through AWBA does not include advice on prayer forms from any one belief system nor do we judge any doctrine or spiritual practice as “right” or “wrong.” We leave the “how” to your discernment in conversation with those you trust. AWBA seeks to simply provide a sanctuary where a weary spirit may come for rest and renewal alongside others of a like heart, body, mind and spirit.
We are grateful for the lessons we learn every day from those walking this journey. You are our teachers.