All hospice work is spiritual work.
This is what people who work in hospice often say. So as I approach chaplaincy with my hope of working in hospice, my question has been, If it’s all spiritual, why this path? Why not nursing? Or social work?
I have come to this conclusion: because I want to be an advocate for the Spirit to people in the last days of their lives, and to their families, and to have the opportunity to remind professionals in the field of this nature of their work.
It is a point of faith for me that G_D is always with us, but I am very aware—from my family members, my neighbors, friends, professional colleagues, and my own 50 years of experience—of how often we put off being with G_D. At the hours of crisis and of death we have an unprecedented chance to feel this connection. My goal is to support people in taking advantage of this opportunity to feel the presence of G_D in the world—in our family members and friends, and in ourselves.
What I want from CPE training is to work with mentors already walking this path in the care environments where I expect to work, with patients and their families. And I want to engage with peers, so I can know I’m not alone in this process.
I feel that each of us has been blessed with the tools and skills we need, but it’s our responsibility to figure out what purpose we are meant to serve. I have a unique combination of skills, experience and temperament—I have already done work with the dying and their families, both in my life and as a hospice volunteer, I have been a nonprofit administrator for over 27 years, I am trained as a writer and have an MFA in the craft, and I have a long-time spiritual practice, both inside and out of traditional religious structures, with a focus on mindfulness and the natural world. I believe that to be of service as a chaplain weaves these many threads into a coherent tapestry. With a secular, religious and spiritual personal history, I will be able to build interfaith bridges, and reach out to those who have no religious background at all.
I believe that CPE will be a major step onto this path, where I will gain the training and experience necessary to be of service to people and communities in poignant and important moments. I am proud of my work with nonprofits, but I have never felt called, and I am ready for the challenge. I believe that the difficulties we experience, and the surrender we offer when we make significant changes, are the sacrifice we place on G_D’s alter—their difficulty is in direct proportion to their value. With this in mind I anticipate the CPE process with both excitement and some apprehension. Through prayer, contemplation, and conversation with loved ones and trusted advisors, I’ve come to believe that the work of chaplaincy would use the whole of me. It is part of my faith that G_D has a plan for each of us, and it is our responsibility to try to feel into that plan as best we can in our practice of tikkun olam, the healing of the world. I believe that CPE will help me to better be a part of that healing.