As hospice volunteers, our role is to set ego aside, open our hearts to "the stranger" and companion them in their last transformative days on the planet Earth. I always tell the volunteers that as the patients we serve are being transformed by their dying, so are we being transformed as we serve them. And if we aren't being transformed, we aren't really doing the work. That can be startling to someone who only thinks in terms of tasks to do instead of relationships to cultivate. And the cultivation of relationship is more likely to happen when we check our needs at the door, make an intention to be present, and open our heart with loving kindness to the other. I believe that every time you open the door of a home served by hospice, you are stepping into the sacred. Here is a person who is ill; here are the loved and loving ones; here are the ones who are merely tolerant; here are the ones who are enduringly patient. Take off your shoes. It’s holy ground. Apparently being barefoot is a spiritual practice!
The listening that is done in hospice care is essential to "the flourishing of common life". We are all going to die and many of us will suffer prior to that. These are the common threads and talking with and about these issues underlines the oneness we are.
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