This week I have returned to the past, which is also the present – I am attending the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) 2014 conference in Washington, DC. I worked for NASW for nearly 20 years, most of that time in Pennsylvania and then at the national office in Washington. I am seeing many former co-workers and colleagues. Many of these people supported me as I went to seminary and then came to Kentucky.
As a Certified Social Worker in Kentucky, attending this conference helps me attain the continuing education credits required for my license. In addition, I am looking for workshops that will strengthen the work I do at St. Agnes’ House.
Yesterday, I was excited to hear the opening speakers. Kane Smego is from North Carolina and uses the spoken word to help himself and others. His poetry was powerful, bringing me to tears at times, reminding me of the power of the arts to heal and to touch us in ways we can’t always logically explain.
The next speaker was Brene Brown. She is a social work educator and researcher. She is well known for her TED talk on vulnerability, as well as her work on the subject. She emphasized how we try to protect ourselves from being hurt, putting on armor, which is driven by shame, fear, scarcity, anxiety, and uncertainty. Putting on this armor of “protection,” denying our vulnerability, steals love, joy, belonging, courage, empathy, trust, innovation, creativity, gratitude, accountability, and adaptability from us.
We must work to be courageous, which means we expose our vulnerability in safe ways with people who love and care about us.
And that is what St. Agnes’ House strives to be. A place where vulnerability is exposed. Where the horrible thing we tried to rehearse in our lives…to prepare for…the “other shoe has dropped” time in our lives finds a safe place to rest, so that at some point we can be joyous, courageous, creative, gracious and loving.
Enjoy this view from the porch!
Took in some artwork at the National
Gallery, including this painting by Dali