After a 6 or 7 year hiatus I find myself back at the bedside at a hospice organization. As I start this post tonight I am working 11PM – 7AM. It occurs to me that I’ve spent so much of my life dealing with illness and death that I can’t help but be acutely aware of my own mortality. Caring for patients younger than me makes me grateful for each day I am granted here on this earth.
As I walk through the halls passing this quote from Maya Angelou I feel a peacefulness in this place. Many of the patients’ beds tonight have blankets made by volunteers that offer a sense of comfort and peace. Most of the families I’ve met tonight – in mourning, their loss palpable – seem to have a level of peace in their grief.
Although I’ve worked hospice many times before I don’t remember recognizing the peace that dwells here. Perhaps that was because previously I was spending the bulk of my work hours at the hospital performing “heroic measures.” At the time I had a mentality more geared toward keeping patients alive and I missed the message of peace offered at hospice.
Peace with life. Peace with death. Peace with the body. Peace with the mind & spirit.
So often I’ve heard from my aging patients regret because they can’t do activities they used to do so easily. I admit I’ve had the same kinds of feelings myself from time to time. (I just don’t seem to have the muscle strength that I once had.) What if we all had a little more realistic expectation of what our bodies will be like as they age? What if we were more accepting of the changes that happen to each of us over time? What if we had a little more joy in the strength of what we find inside ourselves along this journey of life?
The Biblical truths all come home:
Here forward I will try to take more heart in my ability to bear my crosses and disappointments including my own shortcomings and I will try to recognize this ability in others. I can be comforted by the work that I’ve done and know I haven’t sat useless in this life. Most of all, I will focus on and rejoice in a world to come. I will concentrate on being a blessing to others. I will look for a desire for truth inside me and the incorruptible wisdom of a peaceful spirit. It is not what is on the outside that is important because all of that fades away no matter who you are or what you have acquired.
The beauty of this peace is that with it comes joy.