People who know me know that when I think about alternate careers, my mind has come back to hospice chaplain. Is this God speaking to me? I don't have as much interest in being a parish pastor--I know that the parish pastor is often dealing with non-spiritual matters, like how to fix the roof. But a hospice chaplain--walking beside people during the last days--that work seems spiritually meaningful to me.
I was prepared to like the recent Fresh Air interview with hospice chaplain Kerry Egan, but I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. Interviewer Terry Gross says, "You write about how about one of the things you want to do is hold open a space of prayer or meditation or reflection when someone doesn't have the energy or strength to keep the walls from collapsing."
It occurs to me that many of our jobs require much the same thing, but of course, in a very different way than that of the hospice chaplain. In other settings, we hold open this space much more silently.
A bit later, Egan says, "And what it really means is to model a sense of in the midst of this storm of emotion, you can stay calm, right? It does not have to overtake you. And you would be surprised at how powerful that is for someone else, just to be with someone who is maintaining a sense of presence, of not being in the past, of not being in the future, of literally being present, you know, in the presence. But that has a way of calming people down."
Yes, modeling calm behavior--how our world would be different if we all had that sense of mission!
She covers many wonderful topics, from learning to love our bodies to how she's observed that most of us are happy, yet we don't realize it until it's gone. As you might expect, she encourages us to not wait until deathbeds (ours or our loved ones) to tell of our love and other important topics.
I often don't read the books discussed on NPR--I often feel like I've read the most important parts once I've heard the interview. But I plan to read this one, On Living--Egan was such a wonderful companion this morning.
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