The News Tribune logo

Friday, July 11, 2008


Let me take you through a brief review of what I thought I needed in different phases of my life. I offer this to you to stimulate your own thinking about what you need today to support you in serenely and joyfully living each moment of every day.

As a child I needed
1. to be held lovingly and kept safe by the adults in my life
2. to tear things apart and put them back together
3. to win in the games I played with my friends

As a teenager I needed
1. to get through every class without failing
2. to spend time with my buddies
3. to hold the hand of the girl with whom I had fallen in love

As a young adult I needed
1. to find a way I liked to provide food, shelter, and affirmation in the world
for myself
2. to find someone whom I love and who would love me
3. to find a reason for living

As a middle age adult I needed
1. to spend time with people who would support me in sharing my gifts and myself
2. to learn how to let go of my fear, guilt, anger, frustrations, resentments, and failures
3. to accept my limits, my aging, my dying

I now think that this is what I need now:
1. to listen to, understand, and accept each person who comes into my life
2. to support other people in leading meaningful and healthy lives
3. to accept that I and all I care about will, soon, no longer be alive

In my work as a hospital chaplain I have come to admire deeply family members and friends who support their loved ones who are sick or dying. I have found that without my family and friends I doubt that I could face serious illnesses or my own death.

This afternoon I stopped by one of the waiting rooms where family members and friends wait for their loved ones who are, for a few hours, being treated for some sickness. I focused in on a few items in the waiting room that had been provided to help friends and family get through those hours. Here are some of them:

Small tokens that welcomed them

Refreshing drinks

Tasty tidbits

Just a few simple things set aside by caring volunteers people to support families and friends who were waiting to see their loved ones after their treatments had been completed...
Isn't what we really need is to love and be loved...


EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Taking note of the details of the thoughtfulness and compassion of others gives each of us a window and something to aspire to. Your service as a chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital is valued tremendously. You have brought such joy to my mother-in-law by taking time to visit her in the dialysis unit. I can't thank you enough...

Stephanie Frieze said...

Amen, Joseph. Love makes all things possible.

What you have chosen to do enhances the lives, and dare I say deaths, of humans and is a job few are called to do. It is an extraordinary mission you are on. Thank you for reminding us that we ought to always embrace one another.

Lorraine Hart said...

Nice post Joseph...and the raising of hands in the air!

I learned more about living by walking and sitting with those dying. I've seen folks rearrange their life-priorities when a terminal illness comes. It didn't take a giant leap of thought to get to the benefits of living with better connected priorities, without the medical diagnosis.

In what steps do we count the measure of our lives? When we're young, we want to take big time-eating, just a bit past the middle (where both ends can be spied) our thoughts do some restepping as we slow down to look both ways.

What is time...but this moment...always.

Thanks for what you do...and say, Brother Joseph.

Kim Thompson said...


Does the hospital allow others to "shadow" the chaplains to see what they do and how they do their jobs? I personally would have great interest taking some time and watching you in action and offer volunteer help as needed. I think I would learn a lot and I love to learn!


JosephMcG said...

We have a wonderful department that works with volunteers...
love to have you spend some time with me too... right now, it seems that I spend a lot of time focused on meeting the concerns of Catholics for Catholic sacraments...
The other needs I think all people in the hospital need, are really well handled (to be listened to, to be encouraged to cooperate with those who are focused on their treatment, to be supported with a warm, welcoming spirit, a smile, and a helping hand, the doctors, the nurses, the facilities caretakers, the clinical pastoral education students, the trained volunteers who assist the chaplains, and the other chaplains address beautifully.
So... given much more information than you really need, let me say that I shall ask some questions this Wednesday, and get back to you, Kim. I know that you have a great deal to offer, as a volunteer, the work of the hospital... your enthusiasm, and warmth would help a lot of patients here...
this getting too long... so thanks Lorraine, for your wisdom;
thanks, Stephanie, for your affirmation; thanks, Jaynie, for encouraging me to spend time with your mother-in-law, truly a courageous, loving, and prayerful human being.

Lorraine Hart said...

I have to ask...are the needs of those who have a connection with spirit but not organized religions being met also and represented?

Stephanie Frieze said...

Being of a more disorganized spirituality, your question is meaningful to me, Lorraine.