...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Virginia Satir Encounter

Virginia Satir, a mentor of a seminary professor and pioneer in marital and family therapy, authored many books. My favorite, Making Contact, provides an excellent "road map" for couples to grow in the quality of their communication. Too, it's applicable to any and all stages of friendships.

When I was 1-2 years out of seminary and serving a parish, I grabbed the chance to attend a weekend Family Therapy Seminar led by Satir. For the limited number allowed in the audience, the content and method of the seminar was to observe this amazingly gifted person at work leading a family of two parents and two adult children in therapy throughout the three days.

For those who attended, the event seemed a little surreal. But Satir had been doing these kind of events for years and in fact, I had seen part of one on tape in seminary. She was, it seemed, far ahead of her time. At the same time, it was the only time I ever had the opportunity to actually see psychotherapy happening before my eyes, to learn by being the fly on the wall, albeit at a safe distance. Attending the weekend allowed me to see how all families and family members have their own struggles with dysfunction, pain, and disharmony.

I long remember a simple exchange Dr. Satir and I had. I was trying to express my amazement and gratitude for her willingness- as well as the family's- to risk being out there on display so that others could see it and learn from it. All I could say when I finally shook her hand was just, "This- what your doing- is beautiful." In response, she told me, "It's there- you see it- because it's in you." The beauty of her own unique therapeutic art could be seen just because beauty was in the eye of the beholder.

God, give me the eyes to appreciate your own image in the face of my neighbor.

1 comment:

  1. All faces are but the mask of God, yes?

    A lovely reflection.

    Thank you.

    All's grace,


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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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