Archive for Children – Page 2

A Television Story

When I was a hospice chaplain . . .cartoon-boy-watching-tv

“Now I can have my television back.”

One of my patients died and that’s what his six-year old grandson declared shortly after the death. From the mouth of babes, we say. Unless you become like children, you won’t enter the kingdom of God, Jesus said. Really? Really!

All of us present chuckled when the youngster spoke of his television. We laughed sadly—and joyfully—because of what had occurred a few minutes before . . . and what had been happening for quite a while. The grandfather had been with the family for longer than his grandson’s lifespan: eight years. That meant adjustments for everyone in the family. Sometimes the household had to be very quiet—hard for any kid. Trips to Disneyland were postponed. Friends couldn’t come over at certain times. In the final months of his life, the grandfather got to have the television in his room.

None of the sacrifices were easy for the six-year old or his eight-year old brother. Read More →

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Currency of the Realm

When I was a hospice chaplain . . .

I believe Jesus spoke of at least two distinctive events when he talked about God’s realm. The first was after death. Eternal life. But the second time and place will be the next moment and relationship. The “realm of God” is where what is said or done reveals the way God longs for us to be in community.

When I was a hospice chaplain, I witnessed both ways of understanding:  the hope of life after death and the hope of life now. Remember how you felt when you were hurt by the words of another and they came to you and honestly apologized and asked for forgiveness? In that moment, as you gave forgiveness, you helped fulfill the Holy’s desire. It is the selfish becoming the selfless, the stranger greeted as neighbor, hate transformed by acts of mercy, a peaceful person boldly becoming peacemaker.

Living within “God’s Realm” is becoming child-like; all religions proclaim this.

*      *      *

I spent time talking with one of my patients. She was, as we said in hospice medicalese, “alert and oriented.” Though her body was under assault from a failing heart and cancer, she happily shared her personal history and hoped-for future activities. She was also realistic. She knew some of the future plans might not happen. But all of them involved people and there wasn’t any doubt anticipating a high school graduation or family reunion was important.

While we talked, the patient’s five-year old great-grandchild dashed from one room to another. Suddenly, with a blue, irregularly shaped object clutched in her hand, the child plopped at my feet and announced she must give me money. Well!

As our adult-talk continued, I noticed the great-grandchild carefully pried off the bottom of the blue object. Aha! Money tumbled from her piggy bank. She handed coins to me. I thanked her and told her it would be better if she kept it. Solemnly, she agreed.

She fidgeted and then whispered, “How ’bout some quarters?” With the selected coins cradled in her palm, she reached toward me.

I also took those, again thanked her, and returned them.

I knew her tricks. I’ve used ‘em myself. This pint-sized person craved my attention. But I believe there’s more. I think she knew money was valuable and I seemed like an okay guy and why not give me something worthwhile? She was young enough to know money had value, but not so old as to hoard it. If it’s good, give it away!

When we’re with others, what else is there but to give ourselves away? To share our best gifts…not money as such, but the currency of God’s realm. Of time, trust and peace. Are those easy to share? No. Too many of us act like adults.

We hoard. We withdraw. We evaluate. We compare.

The child scampered away, perhaps to give coins to someone else in the house. The patient said, as I prepared to leave, that she was so thankful for hospice, for all the people helping her. I held her hand, we prayed, and I knew the currency of God’s love had been shared. Child-like, we knew what was valuable.

Once strangers, we were neighbors.

Will death come? Of course. But now, here . . . life.

(Hospice vigorously protects a patient’s privacy. I’ll take care with how I share my experiences. Any names used are fictitious. Events are combined and/or summarized.)

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