Archive for Hope

From the Mouths (and Gift Cards) of Children

The nine-year old kid wanted to give a newly born cousin a present by using the gift certificate he’d just received.

But I’m cynical and suspect people (even kids with ages based on single digits) have an agenda—usually a self-serving agenda—when they help others.

The nine-year old kid wanted to give a newly born cousin a present by using the gift certificate he’d just received. The certificate was for $20 and would allow him to buy anything at the local Walmart store.

Yeah, but this likely me-first little kid probably didn’t like stuff at Walmart and was only dumping an unwanted gift on the family of his unsuspecting infant cousin.

The nine-year old kid wanted to give a newly born cousin a present by using the gift certificate he’d just received. The certificate was for $20 and would allow him to buy anything at the local Walmart store. The boy had received the gift card, along with a basket of other goodies, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Any-who, I’ve lived into my sixth decade and have witnessed or read about everything. There’s nothing much—good or bad, joyful or perverse—that surprises me anymore. Read More →

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Christmas Promise

On a long-ago Christmas Eve, I did my last visit to a patient as a hospice chaplain.

I was honoring a promise.

All I did was hold a hand in a dark bedroom while storm clouds trudged across the night sky. In the nearby houses, seasonal lights flickered in the rain, inflatable Santas and snowmen waved their greetings, and outdoor ornaments sparkled as the gusting wind teased them.

In the patient’s room, it was quiet.

In the patient’s room, she now mostly slept.

I’d already started working as a church’s “new minister.” It had been a tough decision to leave hospice—an intimate ministry—for a mid-sized church with hundreds of members, a sprawling budget, and endless obligations. So many decisions are a combination of guesses, selfish and selfless reasons, and trying to do the right thing at the right time of life. I didn’t know then (and I don’t know now all these years later) if it was the best choice . . . but it was my faithful risk to say “yes” to serve a congregation.

Some of those “endless obligations” during the first days of church work were the Christmas Eve services. There I would preach. There I’d read the ancient stories of Jesus’ birth. There I’d seek to connect an old, familiar tale to the daily hurts and hopes of modern folks. There I’d help a congregation light candles and proclaim the “light of the world.” Read More →

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Hospice Isn’t the Opposite of Hope

mother.daughter

A daughter called about her mother . . .

My obvious hope on this website is to inform people about hospice.

I speak personally. A hospice cared for Dad. My mother, though never a hospice patient, received feedback from a hospice nurse that proved crucial to my family’s decisions. (We also “rejected” another potential hospice because their admitting nurse was—being polite—not very professional.)

I speak professionally from my past. On numerous occasions, visiting patients as their chaplain, I witnessed the importance of quiet time with loved ones in the final days. As hard as it was to admit, one more round of chemotherapy or another frantic trip to the emergency room would only put off the inevitable for a brief, painful time. Wasn’t it better to remain home?

I speak professionally from my present position in bereavement support. On numerous occasions, the ones grieving have shared with me how life changing the final days became with a parent or spouse or child or mentor or best friend. They learned about themselves (and liked what they learned about their strength and patience) as they focused on being a caregiver.

I speak realistically about hospice and our mortality. Modern medication, fervent prayers, high-tech treatments, the skilled hands of a surgeon, or the healing properties of an exotic herb may lead to remission or even complete cures . . .

But do you think your ill parent or spouse is somehow immortal?

Do you think you are? Read More →

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