et lux perpetua…

Today during our Hospice team meeting, we stopped at the 10 o’clock hour to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida just two weeks ago. Just two weeks…

I re-lit our memorial candles to read the 17 names. After two or three names, I could not go on. So I passed the paper to a co-worker… and to another… and then we stood in silence. And tears.

At my regular team meeting, I read the names of recent deaths, and we have a moment to honor them. Sometimes I get a lump in my throat and feel a little sad. The stories and lives of our patients affect us deeply. We know we are in a sacred work.

But this… this was so very difficult. So very, very different.

This was random.
This was evil.
This was violent.
This was full of pain.
This was senseless.

Right before I blew out the candles, I said to my teammates, “May their lights continue to shine.”

Indeed.

…et lux perpetua luceat eis…

And let perpetual Light shine upon them.

Amen.

Another?

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Another?
Another shooting?

Whatever the reason…
Whoever has done this…
I do not understand.
I feel helpless…
The loss of lives, the stunned survivors…

I cannot make excuses or place blame.
(But, God, how I want to!)
My anger rises at the impotent lawmakers,
The greed of the gun lobbyists…

My heart can only cry out,
“Another?”

How many votives will I light?
How long will it take to light them?
And then… to watch them flicker out,
one by one by one…
life by life by life…

My heart can only cry out,
“Another?”

I have no words…

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I have
no words
to share
what’s on my heart.
I have only
tears
and prayers,
and the promise
that You, O Lord,
will walk through this valley
with me.

I have
no wisdom
to give
in this place of grief.
I have only
hugs
and tissues,
and the blessing
of knowing Your peace,
as our hearts
are in pieces.

I have
no tears
to cry
because (quite honestly) my well is dry.
I have only
the promise
of the resurrection
and that You, O Lord,
watch our laboring steps
and shower us
with Love.

Rev. Deb Vaughn
June 26, 2016

The floodwaters will not overwhelm you

But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Isaiah 43:1-3a The Voice

 

Lake Needwood. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Lake Needwood. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

  
Lake Needwood, flooded. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Lake Needwood Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

 
I make it a habit when I’m on my rounds to stop for a few minutes, here and there, take a break, and do some charting in a beautiful setting. The last time I was here at Lake Needwood, the water levels were much lower!

I was surprised today when I saw how high the floodwaters were. It occurred to me that many times, we don’t realize how circumstances have overwhelmed or challenged us. Certainly with my hospice patients and their families, the overwhelming grief and worry piles up higher and higher, and many times we might not  realize how difficult things have been.

So, I took a little self assessment, just to remind myself where I needed some relief, and where perhaps, the floodwaters or stressors are taxing me more than I realize. 

Flood zone. Lake Needwood. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Flood zone. Lake Needwood. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Maybe you’re in a “flood zone” of sorts right now. Take a moment. Breathe deeply. Say a prayer. Find some refreshment for your heart and courage for your soul. 

You are a beloved creation of God. You’re worth it. 

Remembering…

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In our chaplain’s office, we have a small corner for reflection and prayer. There’s a hand labyrinth, some prayer stones to hold as you meditate, and a bowl of memorial rocks. There’s also a small electric candle and a book of prayers.

Some weeks, I need to spend more time in reflection and recovery when a patient dies. Yes, I am a hospice chaplain. And yes, this is part of the work that I do. But depending on a number of factors, it can be harder than usual when I see the notification come across on my email. Logistically, sometimes I can’t be present at the time of death because I’m caring for another patient, another family.

This week I said good-bye to two lovely patients. Yes, they were in hospice and it wasn’t unexpected. But it was still a loss for their families. I heard their stories and their dreams. I felt their grief bubble up, and tried to keep my own feelings checked so that I could help them experience and process their own. I focused on their sources of hope and faith, on the places where they see The Eternal One at work.

And then, I needed to sit with my own feelings, and rest in my own faith. I accept that beauty comes with pain, and joy will come in the morning. I pray and breathe. And… Remember.

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Don’t run away from grief, o soul,
Look for the remedy inside the pain,
because the rose came from the thorn
and the ruby came from a stone.

Rumi

Blessed be.

She Takes Flight: A Prayer in Memoriam

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She rests in peace.
Her soul takes flight
into the Arms of the One
who knew her best
who loves her now.

For those whose tears are flowing
and hearts are broken,
I pray for comfort,
for peace to surround them,
for grief to ease.

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine
Et lux perpetua luceat ei:
Requiescat in pace.
Amen.

Eternal rest, grant unto her, O LORD,
And let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Amen.

Sunday Night Meditation: Not Right Now

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As the Queen of “Open-My-Mouth-To-Change-Feet” I was encouraged and challenged by this song. Sung by Jason Gray, it is a simple reminder to “listen twice, talk once.”

You could see the smoke from a mile away
And trouble always draws a crowd
They want to tell me that it’ll be okay
But that’s not what I need right now
Not while my house is burning down

I know someday
I know somehow
I’ll be okay
But not right now

Tell me if the hope that you know is true
Ever feels like a lie even from a friend
When their words are salt in an open wound
And they just can’t seem to understand
That you haven’t even stopped the bleeding yet

I know someday
I know somehow
I’ll be okay
But not right now

Don’t tell me when I’m grieving
That this happened for a reason
Maybe one day we’ll talk about the dreams that had to die
For new ones to come alive
But not right now

I know someday
I know somehow
I’ll be okay
But not right now

While I wait for the smoke to clear
You don’t even have to speak
Just sit with me in the ashes here
And together we can pray for peace
To the one acquainted with our grief

I know someday
I know somehow
I’ll be okay
But not right now