In the past weeks I have had the joy of publishing a new book on pastoral care entitled Nursing the soul. This book has been the fruit of years writing articles for the quarterly magazine Il-Musbieħ, which is published by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN). I want to take this opportunity to thank them wholeheartedly for supporting this initiative.
The writing experience of this book has taught a valueable lesson in personal and pastoral life: how precious is the journaling exercise! Once, I read an article by Thai Nguyen, which highly promotes journaling. According to Nguyen journaling offers us some ten surprising benefits. First, journaling stretches our IQ. Quoting a report by the University of Victoria, Nguyen asserts that “writing[,] as part of language learning[,] has a positive correlation with intelligence.” In writing this book God gave me the grace of enriching my vocabulary to express my reflections. Second, journaling evokes mindfullness. When writing this book I could feel that my past hospital experiences came to life again!
Third, Nursing the soul has helped me share my simple ideas regarding pastoral care with the general public as well as to check myself where I am now as a pastoral carer. Fourth, writing this book made me more aware of how the role of a chaplain the hospital is crucial for the patient, relatives and the staff as well. In writing these reflections I could intuit and understand better what the other people around me, in the clincal setting, are experiencing. Furthermore, it also assisted me to comprehend what the other persons expect from me.
Fifth, this written deeper reflection on my pastoral life with the sick persons boosted my memory to go and search for meaning that is hidden in the everyday expriences that are lived at the hospital where I am actually serving. A meaning which, like the letters I scribbled, is composed and re-composed all the time. Sixth, this writing experience aided me greatly to stenghten my self-discipline. Obviously, setting time apart to just write my own reflections is, in fact, an act of discipline in that regard. Seventh, the writing endeavour of Nursing the soul helped me to improve my communication skills. According to a Stanford report “writing has critical connections to speaking”. The more one writes the more one increases the possibility of speaking clearly.
Eighth, writing Nursing the soul has been for me a healing experience simply because expressing my thoughts and feelings in writing is a powerful road to healing indeed. In his book Writing to heal, Dr. James Pennebaker writes: “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable”. Thus, writing has freed me from the stress that, as a chaplain at Mater Dei, I have to face when ministering to others. Ninth, Nursing the soul has sparked by creativity. Needless to say, before writing every single article of the book I prayed from my heart to the Holy Spirit to enlighten, guide, strengthen and make me ever docile to His inspirations. Tenth, the writing of Nursing the soul has opened me for God’s grace of reliving my pastoral experiences and gave me the courage to set sail into the stream of consciousness and learning. Nursing the soul has reaffirmed my God-given abilities of journeying in life experiences. And, certainly, this Odyssey has made me more aware of how much am I to rely on that inner spark of light that God, in his merciful love, always gives to each and everyone of us. It is that inner light which is the hub of real self-confidence that will spur each one of us to go out of himself and herself to serve those who are suffering.
As one may fathom these ten surprising benefits of jouraling will accompany the reader to discover what Nursing the soul in a clinical setting is like. Obviously the book will never give an exhaustive answer of how a soul of a person who is distressed is to be nursed. Yet, in all its simplicity, it tries to offer some clues regarding nursing a soul in Christ’s light.
Those interested in purchasing the book can do that by contacting the MUMN at their Mosta office on their telephone number: 21448542.