As a bereavement chaplain in hospice, I talk to a lot of people who are hurting.
They are all different because they respond to death the way they live...
Everyone of them is the same, too.
In the most tender valleys of their humanity where loss and disappointment make every breath treacherous, most all, manage to move forward. How they do this, is the curricula of a life well lived.
It's twisted, really.
It's twisted...like a mobius.
What is a mobius? Imagine a ribbon joined at its ends to be in a continuous loop but with one difference. Before it is connected there is one twist put into the circle. A mobius is also the universal symbol for recycling. If you trace your finger along the face of the ribbon, you will ...travel on both 'sides' of the ribbon back to the place you began. There is only one side, and one path. As an Interfaith chaplain, you gotta know I love this mathematical object: we are all on the same side, and the same path... (As one of my more theatrical friends at church would say, "Yeah, baby...")
One of my 'bereaved" yesterday told me that they did not "shield my kids from death. I don't want them to be afraid of death, when their time comes." Or...when they are called to show up as adults for someone they love. Another bereaved, in the same week related how they did not go to say goodbye to their daughter, after she passed in our care, because they had a young grandson in the car and were afraid of traumatizing him.
Which kid do you think might grow up with a fear of death...and life? Nothing is for certain, as humans and parents we play the odds. We assess which approach is more faith or fear? more transparent? more brave?
All good questions...it is the treacherous territory that chaplains willingly walk into, to accompany. We have the privilege of asking hopeful questions in the "valleys of the shadow of death." On the other hand, we may listen the call of love and kindness, by keeping our hearts open and our mouths shut. These are not questions that have only one answer, like in Newtonian Physics. A human being is so much more than a mathematical object and even...so much more inspiring.
Thank you to all of you that I reach and teach; I learn so much from you every day. Its a mobius, after all.
on a Chaplain's life