General CBF

Spiritual Care Week 2018: Cultivating Time – Part 6

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 the final installment. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here,  Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here

By Courtney Hester

Hester family

Britt, Courtney and Abigail Hester

This past February, my husband, Britt, and I welcomed our first child, Abigail, into the world. To say that my view of time has changed is an understatement.

As a parent of an eight-month-old, my time has not only become limited, but it also appears to be passing by entirely too fast. It seems as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in everything I want to do. The days when I had time to scroll through Pinterest for crafting ideas or train for a half marathon are far gone, as I search to balance my roles as chaplain, wife, mother, church member and friend.

Yet, as I reflect on the limited amount of time parenthood brings, I can’t help but hear the voices of the many oncology patients I’ve encountered.

It is ironic that, when faced with death, one truly learns how to live, but I find this to be true each and every day of my work at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. Time and again patients remind me of the fragility of life and how to cultivate meaningful time.

Those who are nearing the end of life often express the desire for more time, but it’s not to fill it with busy schedules and endless to do lists. I never hear regrets or wishes to have worked more, made more money or received more recognition. The regrets are quite the opposite as I hear patients struggle with wishing they worried less and spent more time doing what matters most, whether that’s traveling, finishing a bucket list or spending time with loved ones.

While I hear many different wishes, the desire to be with loved ones is the number one wish I hear. I hear wishes to attend a child’s graduation, dreams of travel with a spouse and pleas to see a grandchild born.

So as I reflect on this year’s theme of “Cultivating Time” during Spiritual Care Week, I am reminded of the wise words these patients continually share with me.

I’m reminded that cultivating time is not about finding more time in the day, but instead it’s about valuing the time each of us are given as a gift. It’s learning to fill our time with the moments we would miss if today were our last day.

For me, this means putting the dishes on hold so I can cuddle with my daughter as she drifts to sleep. It means intentionally having lunch with a friend in the midst of busy work schedules. It means finding time for a date night with my husband, even if all we do is relax from the demands of parenting. Because, as wise patients continually tell me, these are the moments that will matter in the end. These are the moments that make life worth living. What moments make your life worth living?

Courtney Hester is a CBF endorsed chaplain serving at Baptist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

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