Archive for Prayer – Page 2

Holy Repetition

the_lords_prayer“I’m still praying the Lord’s Prayer with him,” our chaplain said about one of our patients.

This particular patient’s illness had made it difficult to communicate anymore. Most of his decisions were now made his loved ones. Often it comes to this, where our beloved spouse or parent and grandparent can no longer effectively communicate. Sometimes it is because of cancer, and a “sudden” turn for the worse means a patient chatting in the morning transitions to someone incapable of talking by the evening. Or the patient slowly walks the darkening, years-long road of dementia, eventually unable to speak or comprehend words.

But with many of these folks, certain words, songs and memorabilia will still trigger a positive, life-affirming response. As the chaplain reported the situation, each time this patient was asked if he wanted to pray, he gave an affirmative nod and then, as the chaplain began, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” the patient joined in. Read More →

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(Un)Bound

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)

When I was a hospice chaplain . . .

worldhandsJesus broke the rule of not working on the Sabbath—he healed!—and was condemned by the authorities. Worse, he healed a woman. Worse yet, the incident occurred in a synagogue. While I am a Christian, I don’t think the implications of this passage are bound only within Christianity or Judaism. Whether someone is Hindu, agnostic, or spends weekends worshipping a three iron while strolling along his or her favorite golf course, Jesus’ statement resonated with universal truth.

I’ve seen it in hospice. One of the suggestions I make to families is to let their loved one know—when it seems appropriate—that it will be all right for him or her to die.

A person of faith, with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death is not the end. Let go, return fully to God, Allah, the Higher Authority. A person without faith, also with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death will not reduce the meaning of their life or cause them to be forgotten by the living. Let go, let suffering end.

One of my patients was never told by his wife that it was all right for him to die. It was too hard for her and, in part, I understood. His nurse and I wondered if that was why he lingered longer than we expected. And we wondered if he knew his lovely bride of over sixty years was out of the room, briefly gone to fix dinner for herself, when he finally died. I think he knew. Read More →

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What Do You Think?

mistakes-300x240Once, I was a hospice chaplain . . .

“We made a lot of mistakes,” the wife said.

Before I could respond, she continued talking about how she and her husband had worked seven days a week. “Should’ve taken Sundays off,” she mused.

Then she veered into mentioning communion in the Episcopal Church, which caused her hard-of-hearing husband to declare, “We used grape juice, ya know,” referring to his Baptist-oriented childhood.

On they chattered for a few more minutes, with me listening, trying to follow their random, ever-expanding subjects.

Finally, when each took a breath, I asked her, “What mistakes do you think you made?”

They’d been married over sixty years, and now he lay in a hospital bed in their rearranged dining room, his heart frail and failing, cancer spreading from his prostate.

“Never got our children baptized,” she answered quickly. “Too busy.”

“And that was a mistake?”

“Shoulda been baptized so they can go to heaven.”

I began to respond, but hesitated.

Within the split seconds of my hesitation, she asked, “What do you think?”

I know why she didn’t get a quick answer from me, right then as I hesitated, and now as I reflect on that moment. A fundamental goal for hospice chaplains is to not bring in our beliefs. We seek to support the individual’s spiritual journey, and to let them take the lead while they are our patients. Sometimes visits are merely friendly, where—because of the patient’s desires—nothing about religion is mentioned. But on some occasions, and this was one, a woman married over sixty decades, with several sixty-year old “kids” that she still worries about, will bluntly ask . . . Read More →

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