"Hey Rev., I am an atheist, so I don't need any spiritual care."
This patient is new to hospice, and these were his first words to me.
…so I agreed, " Okay. That sounds good to me."
"What you're not going to try and convert me?"
… and I countered, (I think, eloquently...), "Nope...Not my job."
"…because it is very likely, I don't believe in the same God, you don't believe in."
I paused allowing that to sink in…
I clarified who we were talking about…
It's important to know what you don't know…as a chaplain, for sure, but really when is it not a good idea?
"You're talking about that white guy, in the sky...long beard?
He's a bit of a bi-polar? Surly, and judgmental one minute, then all lovey-dovey?
Then petulant…when he doesn't get his way? … and generally not a fun guy? That one?"
As an Interfaith chaplain, I don't judge. (Ahem…) Okay, I try very, very hard not to… but this guy has created a lot more problems—especially lately—than he's solving.
My patient was intrigued… and tentatively agreed, "Yeah, that guy..."
Now, Then, and at the End
After that, we moved on to focus on better notions. Like what lit him up….it was beautiful. It's a sacred kingdom…queendom…whatever.
The language will never catch up. All we can do is be there…whenever we can...in the love and light—now, then, and at the end.
What we know for sure, from science and accounts of near death experiences, all talk about The Light and its unconditional positive regard…welcoming us. Home?
This is what I call fun--in the fast lane…of time. Sound weird to you, or right on?
Another question, (hospice chaplains are known for their good questions…) Who would you rather party with in the trenches of love?
Post your questions here…or on my new website (for the book) www.emhager.com
on a Chaplain's life