My life as a hospice chaplain...
Even though this happened a year ago, still today it is not unusual for me to go from the home of a patient who is Hindu, to a patient home celebrating Muslim rituals, sing a hymn at my next visit with a Christian patient, and then lift a prayer to "Adoni" with a Jewish patient.
You really have no idea just how similar the journey looks towards the end of life for each of us.... even in the midst of our differences.
My role as a chaplain for Houston Hospice can be anything but typical, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
Last year on this day I had to....
Find a Chinese speaking Buddhist Monk... CHECK
Find a Spanish speaking Roman Catholic Priest... CHECK
And I had a friend calling to ask if I knew a Rabbi that could do a bedside wedding for an older couple...CHECK
While on the phone with my friend, a dear lady from Nigeria was sitting beside me while I waited in a hospital waiting room where I had been called to attend an extubation of a patient while I was on call.
The family had decided to end treatment and placed their mom on hospice so that we could care for her as soon as treatment was stopped in the hospital. This is something people often don't realize is available.
Houston Hospice will alert an entire team of people to be present for the family during the process, making sure that the patient is comfortable and the family has someone present with them.
I had arrived before the family. I sat in the waiting room and began a conversation with this woman. She shared that she just lost her brother and she had overheard my conversation I had with the friend who needs a Rabbi.
She turned to me and said, "They just expect you to have the answers and find these people?"
I talked about how Houston is this amazing American "melting pot," and that because of that, I meet people from all over the world who represent so many faiths.
She then asked, "Aren't you a Christian? Why do they expect you to take care of all of these things when they aren't Christian?"
I didn't think about what I was going to say. I just shared, "And miss all the chances to understand who God is?"
She just smiled and then asked if I would pray for her, "but to be sure to include Jesus. Not all those other things." ...CHECK (and a chuckle)
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.