Uncategorized

A Pastoral Care Glimpse

Yesterday, we had a new patient who I could not get to see easily as I was already scheduled to see patients in a whole different part of our large geographic territory.  She was the matriarch of a very large Cape Verdian family and was 99 years old.  The family had requested Sacrament of the Sick (SOS) for the patient as they were devout Catholics – and so was the patient. I called her daughter who was the Health Care Proxy and offered to set up (SOS) and visit today, the next day, and in the morning to provide presence and comfort.  The daughter was grateful for my assistance and had agreed to the plan.

I arrived today after my morning meeting at ten to find several crying family members leaving the floor.  I went to the the RN and stated, “She died, didn’t she.”  She affirmed my conclusion.  “Did the priest come?”  “No.”  I was so disappointed and surprised as this particular priest is very reliable.  I went to the patient’s room to find many more family members still present – probably 15 to 20.  I found my way to her daughter and introduced myself.  She graciously brought me to  the deceased patient in the hospital bed.  She began telling stories about what a great mom her mother was – a matriarch of the family who never had conflicts with anyone.  “In all her life, I only remember an issue she had with one person.  She was a saint.”  

Meanwhile, family members continued to cry and honor their lost matriarch.  The family presence was intergenerational.  I was impressed by the presence of many young people, along with the elders.  I affirmed the family for their great presence with the patient and let them know that what they just accomplished was hard work….but that they had done a good job sending her on her way.  They had been present for her.  I said to the daughter, “what can I do to be spiritually supportive?”  “Pray,” she said.  “Just pray.”  So, I placed my hand on her mother’s forehead, bowed my head, and gave thanks for her life and love. I prayed for her comfort and peace.  I asked God to hold her in his Everlasting Arms and bring her home.  I asked for comfort to the loving and grieving family.

The daughter expressed gratitude and continued to tell stories of her mother.  Family had gathered more when I was praying.  Funeral plans began to be discussed.  It was clear this was a very spiritual family.  I was feeling badly that no priest had come to bless this beautiful soul.  So I offered a blessing.  “I have water blessed by a priest in Ireland with me.  I can give your mom a blessing, if that would be helpful.”  The family was pleased about this idea.  “Yes,” was the answer.  More gathered around the bedside and I invited the family to participate.  I asked them to place their hands somewhere on the their loved one’s body.  I instructed them that together, we would recite the Lord’s Prayer.  After that, I would make several blessing statements.  After each statement, I invited them to affirm with “Amen.”  I then stated I would close with a blessing with the holy water placed on the loved one’s forehead and give the her a benediction to send her home.  Then we all did just that.

The family continued to cry but they were at peace.  I let them know about our bereavement services and asked if there was anything else I could do for them.  They stated all was well and expressed appreciation for this pastoral support.  I left.  Shortly after I left, the family felt free to disband, more at peace with having honored the death of their loved one.  This is what my pastoral care looks like. It is part triage, part loving presence with a big dose of humility and love.  To include divinity and presence in the process of saying goodbye at end of life is the highest honor and privilege. I am so blessed to have this as my life’s work.  There is nothing better than being there for others when it matters the most and to be able to elevate God’s presence  and make it visible.  Blessed be.

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, April, 2019

 

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Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

Big Love

 

When one of us is lost,

all that is needed is the touch of another

whether to tender skin or the wounded heart.

For none of us are perfectly on track

all the time, are we?

So we help one another to steer and soften.

 

When one of us is sick,

it is time for a cup of Big Love –

we fill it with grace mixed with empathy

so the sickness cannot take root,

causing the soul to wither,

in a feeling of aloneness.

 

If disconnection broadens, 

it is time to seek your teacher –

that wiser one who loves as God loves,

without measure, and

 while nurturing the current lesson to birth.

A good teacher mirrors your imminent Spring 

as you struggle to blossom

and see.

 

This is what Big Love looks like –

its embrace feels like freedom on the wing.

Its presence is grace realized

as sibling souls open and

reach out to you,

sparking Truth and Light

so you can be healed.

 

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, 2019

 

Photo credit to Gary Stanton, my husband, who also gave me the mug recently when I was sick – the inspiration for this poem.  Thank you, Honey!  xoxo

 

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Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

When Life is Hard

 

When life is hard,

and each day a challenge,

look for the soft places

beneath and below.

Uncover what is there

and be comforted.

 

When each day is an effort,

relax your muscles

and decide on purpose

to seek what frees.

Do more of that.

 

When the weight on your shoulders

is slowing you down,

go slow.

It is okay to rest.

Share your load and 

ask for help.

 

Listen to the whispers of God –

for you are being directed to learn 

something important.

Perhaps this is the time you finally understand that

joy can be found 

in the pain

             when you change your thinking.

 

Everyone gets lessons along the way…

Now is your time

to blossom in winter.

So, take comfort in the crocus 

which perseveres through 

hard frozen ground

to rise and shine,

transcending into Spring.

For you are the crocus.

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, 2019

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Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

A Breath That is Free

 

If our moments are forgotten,

did we really live them?

If our thoughts are in charge,

are we present at all?

If our breath is held,

is it really a breath?

I pause with these questions

and my ears open to the hum of my home,

and the song of the birds outside.

My vision is sparked by

the morning light filtering through the trees.

The glow is beautiful.

I notice that as I write,

my posture is hunched,

and I am tight in all the usual places.

I release the usual.

Relaxing and deepening awareness

of my breath,

and my gratitude for it all,

I begin again.

I am present and I live this moment.

Grace and peace find me 

in the movement of my breath.

I am ready for the gift of another day.

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, 2019

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Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

Snow on Trees

 

Don’t despair the soul season

when all the green is gone

and you feel darkened

and bare.

These are the times when

you stand alone, while

everyone looks past you

to escape to the horizon beyond.

You feel planted in place

with nowhere to grow, and

the present brittleness

makes you snap easily.

Though unpleasant and cold –

while in this raw nakedness, 

please be reminded that

you are in a good position.

You are in the right place –

the proper season.

You are ripe for grace.

A season of cold and dark

is a gift like no other.

For when the white glow arrives,

softly blanketing and

offering beauty and peace –

healing is gifted.

You are born again with the

verdant seeds needed

to bloom again

and commune with others.

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, 2019

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Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

Enough Already

 

Don’t worry about the direction

ahead, or the matters of the day.

Simply place your hand

on your own heart

and feel the love there – love 

that was given long ago

that you may have forgotten.

 

Don’t be the person who

allows busyness to run

over your life, squashing it

with good intentions, and

all that learned stupidness which

pulls us away from

this preciousness given.

 

Remember those moments

when God has broken through –

those glimpses when you

knew beyond a doubt that

you are made of the same stuff

as the flowers and trees, and

forever is possible – that 

Love is You, and 

You are Love.

 

Let yourself glow, please.

For those who do, are

born in true freedom.

For in stepping aside from 

the pettiness of all our 

misdirected ways, we can

float like a feather

on the breath of God.

 

Copyright© Cynthia Cady Stanton, 2019

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