Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“For One Who is Exhausted”

Written by: on January 27, 2024

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.[1]

Oh, Covid-19 and all your many strains…you may be small, but your impact is HUGE!  In reading Annabel Beerel’s book Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories, I found a book that is real and alive in my current context now as a leader in healthcare.  I know, as she mentioned, the pandemic affected every person and industry, working in healthcare presented a significant challenge.

An Abbreviated story:

In Hospice, we did not lock down, we masked up (double masked with homemade masks as we did not have any to wear) or we kept daily paper bags where we would place our used masks and know that we could wear again in a week, we gowned up, used homemade vodka-based hand sanitizer and we showed up at bedside.  As a Chaplain I faced many facilities, who had been decimated like a war zone, refuse my entry because I was “not essential” until the government clarified that all members of a hospice team were essential.  Once allowed in I spent my time yelling at patients through my mask and face shield words of compassion, touching their hands with gloves I sat with facility workers devastated, removed from their homes to keep exposure down.  I sat as they cried, expressed fears, and extreme exhaustion.  I am very aware that all of us faced very difficult challenges in our contexts so in no way think what I shared was different or more difficult. It was (and is) all difficult, for all of us.  The above blessing is called “For one who is Exhausted” by John O’Donohue, and it stays in my blessing rolodex, because I find myself back to this space of exhaustion often, don’t you?

A Leaders call:

Rethinking Leadership is a book I have already included in my Doctoral Project and will be on the top of my list of books to go back to and read cover to cover.  It is timely, relevant and I have already given it as a next book for my boss to read.

I read a few of the chapters, but was most drawn to Chapter 7, Leadership in times of crisis. “Handling a crisis well demands being a quick learner, with courage to face reality and to hold people’s feet to the fire to do the same”[2]. Yes, our ability to adapt and learn and face reality is a life lesson we all must learn whether it’s a world pandemic or our own very personal crisis.  “Leading in a time of crisis requires multiple skills. These include a calm demeanor, the courage to speak to reality, an ability to find clarity amid chaos, a capacity for deep empathy, and sensitivity to timing,”[3] as well as when she said, “A most important aspect of leading during times of crises is to help people find meaning and purpose.”[4] I could almost use this as a subtitle to my NPO!  I am studying and designing a “how to have a goals of care conversation” for healthcare workers.  It requires all of the skills above in real time as you meet with individuals facing their own crisis.  This book is worth the money I spent on it, for sure.

A Leaders burden:

“The most important task of leadership is identifying, framing and aligning people to new realities.”[5]  I cannot think of a harder task!  It requires a willingness to acknowledge what is happening now, and sometimes even think of worst-case scenarios, and somehow get people to follow, whew.  Time to go ready the blessing again. Beerel notes “Because so many new realities are continuously arriving on so many fronts, it is difficult to notice and apprehend them all.  In fact, it is impossible. Leaders therefore need to encourage others to participate in identifying new realities that may potentially influence their systems or their spheres of influence.”[6]  I believe Beerel made note as most of us did, that we spent a good amount of time at the beginning of pandemic in denial.  Most of us were in “reactive mode”[7]  “we filter out, edit, rationalize, ignore, defer, and become quite blind to truths we do not want to or cannot bear to hear.”[8]

What to do?:

Beerel gave us many theories in this book and in times of crisis she noted that Adaptive leadership and Transpersonal leadership alongside technical and adaptive work is what is most beneficial in times of crisis.  I plan to keep this book as I continue to walk through my leadership journey.  I am excited to read how you all were impacted or not?

[1] O’Donohue, John. To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (New York, Double Day,  2008) pg 125.

[2] Beerel, Annabel. Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories. (England, Routledge, 2021) pg. 164

[3] Beerel, pg 163.

[4] Ibid, pg.166

[5] Ibid, pg 166

[6] Ibid, pg. 166

[7] Ibid, pg. 168

[8] Ibid, Pg 168


About the Author


Jana Dluehosh

Jana serves as a Spiritual Care Supervisor for Signature Hospice in Portland, OR. She chairs the corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee as well as presents and consults with chronically ill patients on addressing Quality of Life versus and alongside Medical treatment. She has trained as a World Religions and Enneagram Spiritual Director through an Anam Cara apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living center in Bend, OR. Jana utilizes a Celtic Spirituality approach toward life as a way to find common ground with diverse populations and faith traditions. She has mentored nursing students for several years at the University of Portland in a class called Theological Perspectives on Suffering and Death, and has taught in the Graduate Counseling program at Portland Seminary in the Trauma Certificate program on Grief.

10 responses to ““For One Who is Exhausted””

  1. Esther Edwards says:

    Thank you for sharing your Covid experience. It had me remember the devastation so many families felt, whether their loved ones were hospitalized or passed away, alone, or whether they were essential workers and faced so much uncertainty. I, too, felt this is a book worth revisiting and keeping as well. I especially loved the synthesis of so many leadership models, but then adding those that may truly help in the new “now” that we live in. I am curious. What aspect of her portrayal of what is needed in leadership resonates most with you?

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Thanks Esther. I’d say the area that seemed to resonate most for me what transpersonal leadership. I feel the leaders in my area of work post pandemic have an empathy deficit and have become about productivity and rules ( some of which was necessary) but I wonder if the empathy deficit is from compassion fatigue? Anyway, transpersonal leadership seemed to capture both the structure and the empathy, so I want to read more on that.

  2. mm Tim Clark says:

    Jana, I really fought through the covid season and it was hard, but reading your post reminded me how hard others had it. While people were throwing rocks at me and leaving the church in a huff, you were holding dying people’s hands.

    It puts everything in perspective.

    You are a hero, I’m humbled to know you and blessed to be in your peer group.

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      It was hard, very hard. And yet you couldn’t have paid me to be a pastor during that time! I guess we are all where we need to be for the season we are in, whether we always want to be there or not. Thanks for your encouragement friend!

  3. mm John Fehlen says:


    That poem.


    If I may speak bluntly…Holy crap.


    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      John, you came to mind when I was re-reading that blessing before you even said anything. I see you…know that you can finish this doctorate more refreshed then when you started..even though it was so much additional blood, sweat and tears…I see you!

  4. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Jana,
    I pulled out that blessing just last week and read it to myself several times as a way of holding and honoring my weariness. Thank you for sharing it with our cohort!
    I was struck by this quote as well, “The most important task of leadership is identifying, framing and aligning people to new realities.” That denial piece seems to be the biggest barrier to moving self and others forward. What helps you help others move through denial? What supports you when they can’t?

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Denial is difficult…it takes asking all the right questions and sometimes circling around and around…almost like a boa constrictor (but nicer:)). Facing the reality we want is such a great way to frame a conversation around denial because it’s focusing on just that, our deepest desire and it helps us come to grips with reality! Usually. I think asking questions, listening, asking more questions, listening and then pointing out the truth hidden in the denials. It’s sometimes just as simple as asking the courageous question even though it may elicit a strong response! Why are we so afraid of strong feelings in others? Anyway, not sure I answered your question, perhaps I’m in denial:)

  5. Adam Harris says:

    Thanks for sharing that experience Jana, wow, what a dynamic that must have been for you all. Thank God for your work and what you did and still do. I can only imagine how exhausted you must have felt. My Mother and brother are in the medical field and I know they felt similar. Is there a particular skill you feel was sharpened during that time for you?

    • mm Jana Dluehosh says:

      Honestly, I have been more angry the last few years then I have ever been. I’m talking about the good angry, the justified anger and the willingness to say I’m angry. I’ve been very uncomfortable with that feeling so I quickly reframe it so that I can just skirt to the other side of it with rational thought. I think sitting in feeling anger without trying to “fix it” has been a skill well sharpened and has helped me accept the anger in someone else and just sit present to it, not to fix it, but to be in it with them and in the end it transforms. Ahhh that was an amazing question, I hadn’t thought about that for myself fully, so thank you!

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