This week I attended Diocesan Clergy Day. It was at Holy Trinity Greensboro. They have a meeting room that opens with multiple french doors onto a large, gracious outdoor space. The ceiling of the outdoor space looks like a traditional church’s upside-down boat shape, with hanging light fixtures much like in church. The walls are stone, but only go up 6 feet or so. Then there’s a nice big break between the walls and the ceiling. A number of ceiling fans keep the air moving. A perfect space as we move out of pandemic.
Bishop Victoria Matthews was our speaker. She was bishop in New Zealand when over 1,200 earthquakes hit. She led her diocese through long-term disaster and recovery, and spoke to us about resilience and how to lead after a crisis. She reminded me of a very important and well-known element in disaster recovery: Disaster hits. Then everyone rallies and works together in amazing ways to get towards recovery. We’re on our best behavior, doing more than seems humanly possible, and making strides. But at some point, this gets to be too much. At some point, in every disaster large or small, we hit The Grumpy Bump.
And the pandemic has been a protracted disaster, lasting way over a year. So that means our disaster recovery graph is elongated. It means, I think, that we will live through an extended Grumpy Bump.
Now each person has their own person disaster recovery graph, as well as our institutions having their own graph as well. So you graph and my graph and your graph and your graph all add into the graph for St. Luke’s. It is really important for me and for you to remember that part of disaster recovery is this Grumpy Bump. More recently, I have found myself thinking uncharitable thoughts — sometimes even speaking them aloud. These are part of the Grumpy Bump. I’d like to wish them away, or work harder to make them go away…but they are a natural part of my disaster recovery.
To be clear: this Grumpy Bump doesn’t give me the right to be a jerk to others. But it does help explain why I feel like being a jerk at times.
One of the things this Grumpy Bump is reminding me to do is to step back and take care of myself. One big contributing factor to the Grumpy Bump is that we’ve over-expended our energy and resources. To mitigate this over-extension, I’ve planned some down time this summer and am hoping to reschedule my delayed sabbatical for early 2022.
When you find yourself getting grumpy over these next few weeks and months, remember the disaster recovery chart and the grumpy bump. Remember that you’ve likely over-expended yourself this last year and that your grumpiness is a symptom of your deep need for rest and refreshment. Let’s do what we can to mitigate St. Luke’s Grumpy Bump by being aware of our own reactions. Watch for symptoms that might mean you need to step back and be extra-gentle with yourself for a while. And then find ways to change your routine to care for yourself and fill up your depleted reserves.