|“….the kind of wisdom that somone acquires after a lifetime of learning… BLNK is an attempt to understand this magical mysterious thing called judgement.”
Welcome to our new electronic edition readers; and to our old friends, welcome back!
This email address is not monitored – if you would like to contact us or get more information, please visit our website or call us at (703)903-9696.
A MEDITATION ON LAZARUS
By Carey Gauzens, LCSW
I wonder, did Lazarus have death flashbacks?
As I think about the idea of death and resurrection, I wonder about God.
Why, Jesus, did you let Lazarus DIE first? Yes, it was a good witness of your power, but really, is THAT the point? Is that why you had to let him die? That seems pretty unkind and self serving. And I know You are none of those things, so there must be some other explanation.
I realize now that the questions I ask of you are the same ones that Martha and Mary asked. “WHY did you not come sooner? If you had come sooner, Lazarus would not have died. You could have saved him. Why did you not save him?
I sit with clients who ask you all of the time: “If you were there with me when I was being sexually abused by father, by brothers, and later by lovers, WHY did you not stop it? Any of it. Why did you not intervene and come save that little tiny girl/boy who was pleading for your help, and who was too wounded to even know to beg you to get out? How could you, a loving God, stand by and watch a little child being abused, and not move to stop it?”
“IF you had been here, Lazarus (I ) would not have died.”
Just what Martha and Mary wanted to know. “But you love us SO MUCH, Lord. How could you not come when we needed you?” And yet, when He came, He did something so much more stunning, so much more amazing, so much more humanly impossible than just saving Lazarus from death. He raised him from the grave.
And isn’t that exactly what you have done with those I sit with every day? Isn’t it a walking, talking miracle that they have been through all that they have been through, and yet their days are filled with LIFE? And with helping others who have been equally, if not more, abused, find life?
I have no doubt in my heart, in my soul, in my life, that I am helping others do what they are called to do. That I am walking the life path with them that you would want me to walk. That they are doing the work that they were born to do.
And yet, did it have to be so hard for them, Lord? Did it have to hurt so much?
I know those I walk with could not be who they are, and do what they do, without the experiences and wounds and healing that they have lived. And yet, I stand with them as they still cry out: “If you had only been here, (Lazarus) I would not have died.
“Did I really have to die to rise, Lord? Is that really the point? Is that the plan?”
And yet I realize that they walk around, RISEN FROM THE DEAD every single day.
Every single day that these brave survivors live, they are a living, breathing witness to the fact that You have brought them forth from the tomb that was their childhood, that is their family. That you’ve healed them in a way more profound than I can ever give voice to.
And yet, sometimes they still wonder, on bad days, on hard days, on flashback-wounded-hurt-crying out days, “Why Lord? Why? How could you leave me in the tomb even for a moment? ”
And so, walking with them, I wonder about Lazarus. They never tell you what happened AFTER he came forth. He was risen. And that is great. That is miraculous.
But what happened next? Did he have memories of death? Did he have questions for Jesus? “You are my friend and my savior. Where were you?”
I always assumed that he just walked forward, miraculous and healed and everyone praised Jesus, and Martha and Mary were happy, and like a fairy tale, everyone lived happily ever after.
But life is no fairy tale, and God is no magician. There are real hurts, and real pains, and there are no promises of perfection and rescue from pain. There is just the promise of eternal life. And the promise that God is always with us, always loving us, always holding us, and never letting us go it alone.
So I wonder, what was Lazarus’s life like in the days and months and years after he died? And rose? Did he focus on rising, like we all assume? Or did he have some questions about the dying. Because those I walk with are human, and Lazarus was human, and they have some big questions about the dying. So, did Lazarus do what we all want to believe he did? Spend the rest of his days, praising God and living in exactly the ways that he should live, now that he had been brought back to life?
Or did he do what we all do as human beings? Forget from day to day and time to time that he had been risen from the grave. Did he go about his daily work and grumble about the tax collectors, and the heat? Did he fight with his sisters and complain about the days when his back hurt and his hands were calloused and his body ached?
Did he have flashbacks of death? I think he did.
And yet he was risen from the dead.
So maybe the call is to just keep on coming back. Keep on coming back. Keep on coming back. Bring the pains, bring the questions, bring the doubt and the faith and the complaining and the aches, and all of those questions, questions, questions, questions.
And keep on coming back.
Because we too are risen from the grave.
Carey Gauzens sees clients in Alexandria and can be reached at Ext. 255.
Donald L. Britton, 1934-2009
The Rev. Donald L. Britton, D.Min. Retired CPC Pastoral Counselor, died suddenly on July 23, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. Our prayers go with Myra, their 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
In the fall of 1992 I embarked officially on the journey of becoming a certified clinical Pastoral Counselor by enrolling in the Institute for Pastoral Psychotherapy’s (IPP’s)
three year didactic and clinical training program. I needed a place to see clients and Don Britton was the Pastoral Counseling Center Director at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, in Arlington. At the time I was newly married, and Mt. Olivet was the Center location best suited to my needs – but it had only one office, Don’s. Encouraged by Don’s ordination in my own denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and his previous support of my enrollment in the IPP, I contacted Don to see if it would be possible to share office space with him at Mt. Olivet. Before he talked to anyone else at the church, and knowing he was about to be displaced to temporary space during a renovation, he unhesitatingly said that he was sure we could make it work – and he did go out of his way to make that happen.
While Don was never my clinical supervisor, over the years he unwaveringly continued to welcome and believe in me as a colleague who would make it in my new calling as a pastoral counselor/psychotherapist. He invited me to brown bag lunches with the local clergy group he convened in his office, referred couples to me when I began to emphasize couple work in my training and practice, suggested and shared carpooling to continuing education and regional denominational events, and supplied the critical number of referrals that allowed me to offer a Singles Group therapy experience in the late 90s. During my first year as a certified clinical member of the American Association of Paastoral Counselors, he welcomed and encouraged me to join the newly forming Center for Pastoral Counseling of VA with him and 19 others in the spring and summer of 1996.
After the renovation at Mt. Olivet was complete I had counseling office space adjacent to Don’s in the basement level of the church. It was then I learned how often he shared his sense of humor and love of laughter that I had come to appreciate with clients, as I would occasionally hear his strong and hearty laugh accompanied by another’s laughter through the wall between our rooms!
Don also had a profound love of music and between sessions I would hear him humming, whistling, and softly singing hymns. It was only after his retirement from pastoral counseling at the end of 1999, at age 65, that I experienced the full grandeur of his solo tenor voice in service at Mt. Olivet commemorating his retirement on January 30, 2000. I was in awe again of his amazing vocal talent at the installation service of another Disciples colleague a few years later.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I stopped by Don and Myra’s home to pick up a file he had for me of the history of the Pastoral Counseling Center at Mt. Olivet. I was on the way to my other counseling location at the time, in DC. Arriving at the door I was greeted with the news that something terrible had just happened and that I might want to reconsider my plan to go to DC to see clients there that afternoon. Don and Myra invited me in and we tried to take in the significance of the events that were happening on the TV screen in front of us. I used their landline to get through to my wife to confirm that she was leaving her job in DC to return home, and to contact my clients. Again, the gift of hospitality, even at a time of disorientation, shock and international tragedy.
There were other facets of Don I learned about as a result of sharing counseling center space with him. As a former Army Chaplain attached to the Navy (during the Vietnam war) he had an abiding fascination with boats and lighthouses, which he in part satisfied through his photography hobby. He related strongly to the metaphor of the lighthouse as a faithful beacon of guidance to those encountering the storms and rough waters of life, just as he was committed to a ministry of providing that guidance and support. And he filled his office space with his own photographs of the sea and beach. I distinctly recall one such mounted photograph, of a sailing ship in a harbor, where he had imprinted these words: A ship in a harbor is safe, But that is not what ships are built for.”
According to Myra, Don’s wife of 51 years, Don entered retirement in much the same spirit of adventure as that quote – with a renewal of his calling as a musician as well as his love of photography and travel. He purchased a digital camera at retirement, along with a new computer, and set about mastering this new photographic technology. He made scrapbooks of all their trips, used the computer to design new pages for his extensive international stamp collection, and learned to do composite pictures on the computer. Myra tells the story of Don holding up a tour bus on their tour of Greece when she and he decided to go their own ways for the last hour of the stop and Don lost track of time while he was photographing flowers!
Don also loved teaching, and delighted in his faculty role as a pastoral care instructor and supervisor to lay persons enrolled in the Art of Pastoral Care, something he continued after his retirement from clinical practice. He also mentored lay pastoral caregivers at his home church, Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, in Arlington.
Finally, Don loved his family, and sharing the photographs of the travels he and Myra were able to take together in the last decade of his life. He also took great pleasure in the role of grandparent with Myra to their three grandchildren — son Bruce’s son and daughter Barrie’s two girls.
Part of Don’s recommitment to his calling as a musician was to pick up the trumpet again (he had rarely touched it since college) and launch a new brass group at Rock Spring UCC. They played for his memorial service on Aug. 22 there.
Myra tells of Don agreeing in the last year to tape his voice lessons with his vocal instructor as he continued to hone his craft, and the gift those are today as she still gets to hear not only the singing but also the banter and small talk that were also part of those lessons. Our prayers at CPC go out to her and their family, especially.
Of course, I am only one person of many who benefited in profound ways from Don’s warm, generous, and hospitable spirit. The memorial service held at Rock Spring Congregational Service on August 22 made that very clear.
ANOTHER REMEMBERANCE OF DON BRITTON:
About ten years ago Don asked me if I would be interested in succeeding him as chair of the AAPC Atlantic Region’s Professional Concerns Committee.
Surprised that he would approach me, a relatively new pastoral counselor, for such an important position I agreed. I may have doubted my own abilities, but I had confidence in Don’s judgment. If he believed I could
do the job I was certainly going to give it my best shot. As I chaired that committee, and later served the AAPC in other capacities, I came across a number of legacies Don had left to the Association. He devised the first program for recognizing outstanding achievement within the region. He championed lay pastoral care training and helped his beloved Art of Pastoral Care program gain recognition as a Pastoral Care Specialist training program in AAPC. He was generous with praise, freely bestowing on people and programs his favorite blessing, “That’s neat!”
My life is richer for having known Don.
Laurie Page, LPC
As the mother of a young child, I often had the experience of looking at my child and knowing at a glance that she would soon be crying with an earache. The recurrent earaches kept us dashing to the pediatrician for antibiotics and rocking in the rocking chair late into the night for comfort. How did I know that another earache was on its way? The pediatrician would take her temperature, look into her ear with the otoscope, and use tympanometry to measure the pressure behind the eardrum. He would gather information, and based on that information, make his diagnosis. I, a mother, would wake my child up from a nap, take one look at her eyes, and make the same diagnosis. You’ve probably had a similar experience. The woman who starts out of the store into the parking lot, only to turn back, knowing that the parking lot is, for the moment, unsafe; the driver who, only moments before a pile up, swerves into the safer lane. These occurrences caught the interest of author, Malcom Gladwell. The result is a book that is both fascinating and thought provoking.
Gladwell has studied many instances of what is often called “snap decisions.” Although these decisions often appear intuitive, Gladwell hypothesizes that our unconscious minds grasp bits of information that are often far more accurate than the data that we gather through lengthy and detailed study of a situation. Gladwell refers to this process as “thin slicing.” Thin slicing isn’t a new concept. Relationship expert, John Gottman, uses a similar technique in training other therapists to analyze tapes made of couples interacting. Slowing the tapes down, Gottman can gather a wealth of information from a glance, a gesture, or a subtle expression change. While Gottman has developed this system to consciously gain information, most of us also have the ability to gather similar information from minute clues, without realizing how we have arrived at our knowledge.
In a study of war games played by the United States military before the Desert Storm invasion, Gladwell learned an interesting fact. The retired US Commander, Paul Van Riper, who was hired to play the rogue military commander threatening US troops in the middle east, won the conflict hands down, in one brilliant maneuver, without the assistance of intelligence information, computer modeling, or consultation with other military leaders. Van Riper played his hand based on real time observations. The opposing team, playing the US military, made use of all of the above mentioned tools in developing a brilliant and fail-proof action. They failed miserably. Can it be possible to have too much information to make a clear decision? Gladwell would say so.
While decision making based on “thin slicing” can be positive, there is a negative side to it as well. Take, for instance, the four police officers in the Bronx, who misread the thin slicing they received from a man standing outside his apartment enjoying the night air, and filled him with 41 bullets. Are there factors that tip the likelihood of snap decision mistakes? Can the snap decision-making process be learned, or relearned? Can mistakes be avoided? Are there changes that need to be made in the traditional way that we make decisions everyday? These and other questions are the intriguing subject of Blink: an “attempt to understand this magical and mysterious thing called judgement.”
Laurie Page sees clients in Fairfax and Manassas and can be reached at Ext. 259.
SPOTLIGHT ON STAFF:
Out and About…
In September, GARY MCMICHAEL led a workshop/discussion on “Pastoral Care for People Impacted by the Current Economic Crisis” for clergy in the National Capital Presbytery.
CAREY GAUZENS, CPC’s Outreach Coordinator, has been working with the Disciples of Christ denomination to develop an assessment process for evaluating future clergy members. If your denomination is interested in CPC providing evaluations for ministry, please contact Carey at (703) 903-9595 x255.
On Sept 9th, LAURIE PAGE led a team building workshop with the staff of the Fairfax Presbyterian Preschool, as a kick off for their new school year.
KEVIN OGLE presented “Men Get Depression” to Mt. Olivet UMC’s Stephen Ministers on Sept. 20th.
Dr. Ogle is also co-facilitating a workshop on clergy self-care with Rev. Martha Brown at Rockville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on Oct. 20th, sponsored by the Christian Church in the Capital Area.
LUCIA SEYRANYAN attended the 3rd annual Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center in September. She also gave a talk to the Stephen’s Ministry at Messiah United Methodist Church in October on Anger vs. Abuse: recognizing the difference.
ABOUT THE CPC RESIDENTS:
MI SOOK, D. MIN. is a first year resident who earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Claremont School of Theology and recently received a Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary. In addition, she graduated from the Graduate School of Methodist Theological Seminary in Pastoral Counseling.
Mi Sook focuses on grief and loss counseling as well as cross-cultural and intercultural counseling. She especially enjoys helping women with such issues as identity, independence, and mid-life crises. She also works with persons who are struggling with depression
Mi Sook does counseling in both Korean and English.
She works at our Washington DC and Annandale offices and can be reached at extension 213 or by email at email@example.com
DEVIKA CAMPBELL, is a second year resident who is a UK trained relational psychotherapist using Transactional Analysis techniques. She works with anxiety, depression, trauma and resolving personal blocks to growth. She has many years training and experience in working with women survivors of child sexual abuse as well as a background in supporting individuals suffering with mental health issues.
Having a culturally mixed background and also having experienced relocation, she has an interest in how new environments and significant life changes interplay with the present.
Devika works in the Washington DC and Arlington (Clarendon) offices, and can be reached on voicemail extension 211, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BILL FRYE, MA, is a second year resident who has a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Counseling from MarymountUniversity. Bill uses a caring, personalized and centered approach to each individual. His focus is on individuals with family of origin issues, alcohol and substance abuse. Bill has experience in family systems work with couples preparing for marriage and with other families experiencing relationship difficulties.
Bill is also an experienced facilitator for Myers Briggs Personality Profile for groups, classes and individuals. Bill can be reached at extension 212, and works in Alexandria and Falls Church.
SUSETTE RITENOUR, MA is a first year resident who has a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Counseling from Marymount University. Prior to her arrival at the Center for Pastoral Counseling of Virginia, she provided counseling services to women and their children in the area of recovery from addiction, as a student intern for Fairfax County Alcohol and Drug Services. As part of her educational program, Susette worked with clients at the VirginiaHospitalCenter focusing on grief, loss, and end-of-life issues.
Susette works at our Fairfax and Manassas locations, and can be reached on voicemail extension 214.
DE JUANA SMITH-GATLING, MA is a first year resident who has a Masters Degrees in Divinity from HowardUniversity and Psychology from WaldenUniversity. De Juana will soon complete the her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Walden University.
De Juana has worked extensively as an ordained minister and hospital chaplain in GeorgetownUniversityHospital and JohnsHopkinsUniversityHospital. This work has allowed her to work with individuals from many different spiritual paths and cultures.
De Juana’s work includes marriage and family counseling; work with GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) people, substance abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.
De Juana works in our Washington and Alexandria offices and can be reached at voicemail extension 215. Weekend and evening appointments are available.
RAQUEL SUMARAY, MA is a first year resident who received her M.A in Counseling at Capital Bible Seminary (CBS) and is a Board Certified Christian Counselor with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)
When she is not in the office, Raquel serves as the Community Service coordinator at CherrydaleBaptistChurch.
Raquel specializes in bringing people hope and confidence in dealing with anxiety, depression and low self esteem
Raquel can be reached at voice mail extension 216, and works in Clarendon and Falls Church.