Each year the COMISS Network promotes Spiritual Care Week. It is an occasion to recognize the different disciplines who offer spiritual care to persons. The theme for 2018 is Hospitality: Cultivating Time. Throughout this week you will hear from CBF endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors as they focus on this theme. Below is Part 3. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.
By Sarah Miller
In my work bag, I carry crayons (for kids), dog treats (to keep the four legged friends happy) and a book by John O Donahue called To Bless the Space Between Us. This book is packed with blessings that I use for my patients on a regular basis.
My very favorite blessing is one for those who are tired. In it, the author encourages the reader to “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.”
I LOVE this.
I have been a hospice chaplain for about five years now, and one of my favorite things about it is the time. In a hospital setting, I often felt rushed to see as many patients as possible but with hospice, I can spend significant time. I get to offer the gift of time AND receive it.
When I read those words, I am reminded that I get to spend time with patients who, although have limited time left on earth, are not rushed. People at the end of life are rarely rushing around and working on a to-do list. Most of the time, I sit down for a glass of iced tea or coffee with the patient and family. I get to listen to their stories and learn their joys and sorrows.
I find myself rushing often when I’m not at work. I pick up my son from school and then it is dinner and after school activities and bathtime and bed. I have learned from my patients to slow down a bit.
A few months ago, a patient asked me to come over for a visit. She was doing laundry and needed a bit of help folding clothes. As I sat with her and picked up each item of clothing, she told me where she bought it and what it was for. I learned about her former work life, the parties she went to and the clothes purchased for her by loved ones. Something as simple as doing laundry can become a sacred space if we take time to pay attention. I loved getting to learn about the various aspects of her life by folding clothes. Every time I think of this patient, I’m reminded to slow down and be present.
Cultivating time to just be takes work!
Our world encourages us to constantly be busy. When at the kitchen table or in a chair at the bedside, or folding laundry, I get to quietly peek into the world of others. I am gifted a non-rushed experience. I want to be more like my patients. I want to hurry up less and spend more time reminiscing about the best things in my life.
Sarah Miller is a CBF endorsed hospice chaplain.