Being a hospice chaplain is always a blessing but recently I had the opportunity to be part of something very special. On my first visit with Ann (name changed to protect the patient’s privacy) it was obvious her cancer was taking its toll.
She had accepted the doctor’s announcement regarding her condition and had begun to get her affairs in order, but her husband had still not come to grips with the reality of the situation. She told me she had not paid much attention to “spiritual things” in the past but now had lots of questions.
During that initial visit she asked specific questions and we discussed the answers. I could tell the subject was now very much on her mind; she was making up for lost time. In subsequent visits we had more meaningful discussions, and she seemed to become a bit more at ease facing the subject.
Just a few weeks later she asked if I would come by and bless her marriage. When I arrived, her husband and adult children were present, as well as Ann herself. She asked her husband if they could repeat their wedding vows and have their marriage blessed. His response was, “Of course. Why not use the vows we used on our 25th anniversary?” She agreed that was a wonderful idea.
Right there in the living room we had an informal ceremony with just the immediate family present. There was not a dry eye in the room, and that special time helped bring some closure to a family that was hurting deeply, especially, I believe, the husband. When the family eventually left the room, Ann asked what would turn out to be her final questions to me about spiritual matters. Two weeks later she was gone. I was blessed to be invited to share such an intimate moment with that special family.
As a hospice chaplain I am supposed to be the one who helps bring the blessing, but almost always I am blessed far more than the ones I am trying to help. What a privilege to be able to share such intimate times with such wonderful people and see God bring peace into hurting lives, as only God can do!