Threshold encounters of human beings during times of challenge in their lives. Carole Penfold, registered nurse, working out of anthroposophy was interviewed recently about her threshold work, and shared these subtle experiences
NURSING INSPIRED BY ANTHROPOSOPHY – an interview with Carole Penfold
My whole life has been an exploration of the gifts of nursing and music The Sue Barton books inspired my childhood. I had matrons and sisters who knew that besides the practical skills of nursing, something else begs you on another level. They were the custodians of healing. Observing both nurses and patients today one becomes aware of barrenness; they are bereft as if their souls have no point of reference. Today we send people into the spiritual world drug-abused, as this is the only solution we have.
Through anthroposophy my meditations become daily nourishment for my work. It is not so much what I do that matters, but more what I think about what I do. My guiding matrons are now the angels, who help me perceive what is trying to happen in the life of a patient – who may be dying – or not, and my part in that: how to assist the family and the patient to let go of what stands in the way of the healing, and that healing that will take place if they will allow themselves to receive it. When there is less outer activity, observation becomes acute. How can I make possible for each one to receive what they need from each other in the family or institution? I observe that I am like the conductor in an orchestra, bringing up the flutes, calming down the cellos and encouraging the violins so that the trumpets are not too loud.
The rhythmic massage technique brings together in me the gifts of healing and music. It gives the patient a life force. You need a life force for as long as possible, even if you are dying. I experience , in patients who have been living with dementia for years, a frozen edge within them which alone strives to keep them going; such people really need to have a qualitative ‘walking beside’ – a healing touch through massage or other therapy, regularly, to help maintain their dignity and thereby an ‘inner knowing of self’. Cameos living in people can give clues to the question ‘How do I help find the way through this quagmire of fog?’. One patient with dementia has Douglas Bader’s autobiography read to him constantly and watches the film with Kenneth Moore over and over. Through this he can be helped to ‘Reach for the Sky’.
We are all ‘gifts in progress’ never ceasing to explore what we have been given. Old people should be kept alive as long as possible so that they have the opportunity to learn whatever they have come to learn. We are all in the situation of becoming. Experience has warned me that patients are particularly receptive to what I am thinking and also to physical touch; this addresses the Ego. Anthroposophy begs from me a humility of knowing and of working with the resources available, to maintain dignity in the last stage of illness and midwifing the human being into the spiritual world.