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Monk in the World Guest Post: Suzanne Dowd

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Suzanne Dowd’s reflection on listening for grace.

It’s a rainy Thursday, I set up my laptop, make myself a cup a tea, put on a warm cozy sweater & settle in to the new comfy chair in my home office to do virtual sessions with my patients. My profession is that of a clinical social worker. Each week I feel privileged to walk with patients through their life stories. Some stories are so dark, I don’t know at first if they will ever see the light again. But, I have hope & through God’s grace give them hope for a light filled tomorrow.

Each person’s journey is unique. I ask God before the start of each work day. “Please Lord let your words flow off my tongue not my own.” God’s voice near fails.  I realized the other day that more that 90% of my caseload of patients have found meditation, visualization, prayer, painting, journaling or spending time in nature to be a deep part of their healing process. I don’t believe it is of my leading but of God’s nudging. So together we journey through the woods, or listen to a newly crafted poem, praying together, viewing a magnificent new work of art or doing breath work or visualization together. These are gifts of the spirit. No matter what age my patient is, 8 or 80, God’s presence is with us during each session & beyond.

I am a contemplative by nature.  Rising in the early morning before daybreak, it is the silence I embrace. Music to my ears. A cup of coffee, some spiritual reading, the writing of poetry. These days especially Haiku. Not sure why this form. All bring me peace & comfort to start the day in harmony.

The circumstances, of the now one year plus of the pandemic, had forced me to leave my office life behind & shelter in place which includes doing Telehealth with my patients from home. It was an adjustment at first. The physical connection of seeing patients in person adds to the therapeutic experience in so many ways. Body language, playing a game with a child, a cup of tea together, an occasional hug are all a part of the journey together. Transitioning to screen time seemed so impersonal at first but digging deeper, as the months of the pandemic progressed, led to more creativity. Strongly focusing on facial cues; finding ways to play games together online with children, leading a patient through a visualization or breath work, meeting family members & pets; actually having a meal together as we talk, listening to a patient play a song they wrote on guitar, a wave instead of a hug . . . all have added to the therapeutic process & are pure gift. I am reminded of a Leonard Cohen song, “Anthem”: ”there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in”.

As working from home continues into 2021, I embrace the nuances of each day. A break in my work day gives me the opportunity to prep for dinner; meditate more, do yoga or call a friend.

These things enrich my soul & lead me to go on with my work day refreshed in body, mind & spirit. Change is not easy but with hope, creativity, God’s love & graces . . . there is always light.

The morning’s daybreak
Glimpse of light
Hope for tomorrow

Suzanne Dowd, LCSW has been a licensed clinical social worker for more than 30 years. She loves her work as much today as when she first started, especially working with children & adolescents.  She is currently working on a book of Haiku & other poetry. Suzanne’s time with family & friends brings her the greatest of joys.

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