Life’s calling…to walk with those who are dying
By Ron King, Chaplain
Whenever I mention my vocation is serving as a hospice chaplain, people often remark that it must be a difficult job, one they couldn’t do. But my wife, Debbie, teaches kindergarten—something I could NEVER do! What makes it possible to do any task well is to have a “calling”. I first heard the whisper of a call for me to give attention to death and dying when I was 21 years old. As the 1969 Pontiac LeMans convertible rolled over with me in it, I realized our days in this life are numbered and we don’t know how many we have. That night, getting ready for my last day on earth became a quest.
Now I choose to walk with others who are preparing for their last day. And those who care for them. Called to help others let go, say goodbye, accept the loss of health, family, earthly possessions, understanding, freedom and friends fills each day with meaning. Rather than the dread, resignation or hopelessness that many people expect when they think of a hospice chaplain’s work, a deep joy arises in seeing people prepared, content, and confident to live their last moments with the faith that all is well.
Without a sense of personal calling, being a hospice chaplain could be a chore, a source of disappointment and despair. Hearing the call that comes from beyond myself gives me hope and direction for each day. Spending time with others at the end of their journey brings insight to my own quest of being fully prepared. My prayer is that your journey in caring for others who are preparing for their last days will prepare you as well by adding perspective and meaning that only caregiving can offer.