June 18, 2014 | Posted in Our Stories

Humanity could divide itself into many different opposite types. Type A, type B, risk-taker, non-risk-taker, melancholic – choleric, or dreamer and action taker. We are a nation of opposites. Could a major soul spirit task be to find balance between our opposite natures? One of my early heroes when I decided to become a nurse was Florence Nightingale. In Florence we find that wonderful balance of determination and quiet attention to duty. From a young age she could be found in the nearby English countryside helping the poor and sick. Born of wealthy British parents, she was expected to marry a young man already picked out. Refusing, she scandalized her parents with her decision to attend nursing school in Germany. She is best known for her tireless care of the wounded during the Crimean War. Appalled by the unclean conditions of the hospitals near Constantinople, she set into motion now widely accepted codes of sanitation and reduced the death rate by one third.

When I began my nursing career decades ago I discovered that a quiet compassion for the sick did not necessarily coincide with coined compensation. I discovered that the highest paid in the nursing profession are jobs where action and quick thinking are required and I might add where adrenaline flows like water. The lowest paid are those patiently working with the elderly, hospice, mentally ill or the floor nurses in an institution. There are some professions that should be a ‘calling,’ a desire to serve in that profession. If thoughts run otherwise we are treading on quaking ground on a soul level.

I left the hospital scene because ‘Florence’ opportunities were pushed aside by high tech machines and mountains of paperwork. I found Hospice nursing filled the need to follow the path and practice created by my early heroes. But still a quest for the nature of spirit in the work was missing. How fortunate for me that I found a teacher from Germany that brought her entire spiritual being in the ‘Art of Nursing.’ The other nursing students that experienced this Anthroposophic Medical Retreat also experienced a challenge to see the profession in a different light. Also during this Retreat I witnessed a discard of the hierarchy that prevailed in the common medical arena. During a shortage of staff in the kitchen, physicians were happily chopping carrots. In the study of Anthroposophic Nursing we become aware that our inner development is as important as physically caring for the patient. I saw that it wasn’t just dreaming of the idea of a ‘Florence’ in a gentle soul way but when the need arose to do battle for the sake of right action. As I continue my, I hope, never ending study of myself and the world of Nursing I can find glimpses of the glory of Florence in all of us.

Joy, North Carolina

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