In early August, I was hired as a per diem chaplain at Hospice Inc, of Ulster and Dutchess Counties. I’ve shadowed nurses, social workers, music therapists and chaplains and have just begun to see patients on my own. From a prior unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), I knew I would love this work; in fact, an important factor in my decision to come to TNS was to combine interfaith ministry with multi-faith chaplaincy.
The work of being present with people at the end of life is intense and immediate. Each situation is unique and there’s no way to prepare in advance, to plan, to know what prayer or what words will best serve. What a chaplain does is step onto ground that is already sacred, and join the person who is already there, with a heart as open as possible and a mind as uncluttered as it can be, knowing that this is about touching mystery and respecting life.
I feel as though I have prepared my whole life for this, from being a student nurse just out of high school, to earning an M.A. and working as an English teacher, memorizing poems and filling my mind with stories of human efforts and human heartbreaks, to the M.Div. that did not lead to denominational ministry because the only religious identification authentically possible for me was interfaith, to a Buddhist practice, to CPE, and finally to TNS and interfaith ordination.
Rev. Sally Anderson, TNS 2012