I have spent a lot of time over the years working as a hospice chaplain. It amazes me how many homes I go into where the family has little or no contact with organized religion. It is in those homes, though, where I am able to minister as a chaplain more than I can as a pastor. As a pastor, I am seen as a guardian of a particular denomination. As a chaplain, I come across as less threatening. As a pastor, I am seen as trying to persuade someone to my church. As a chaplain, I am seen as a person truly interested in someone’s spiritual well being. I have also recently read some good pieces of literature relating to hospice, dying and dignity. Let me share two of those with you today.
The first is by Gwendolyn London and is remarkably profound:
“We must realize that dying is a spiritual process with medical implications, not a medical process with spiritual implications.”
The second is a poem by Malcomb Goldsmith, from his book: In A Strange Land: People with Dementia and the Local Church
Blessed are they who understand, my faltering steps and shaking hand
Blessed are they who know my ears today, must strain to catch the words they say
Blessed are they with cheery smile, who stop to chat for a little while
Blessed are those who never say, “You’ve told us that story twice today.”
Blessed are they who make it known, that I’m loved, respected and not alone.
And I would add, blessed are those who reach out to the dying, to bring the love and witness of Jesus Christ one last time to souls who need Him