I began working as a healthcare chaplain in 2005, the same year I was ordained in the Order of Interbeing. For those unfamiliar with the role, healthcare chaplains help patients cope with their changing lives using the patient’s own language of meaning, whether that language is religious, scientific, philosophical or based upon their life experiences. This requires the chaplain to listen with compassion and respond appropriately, without proselytizing the chaplain’s own beliefs. My chaplaincy and OI practices have grown and supported each other over the years and I’d like to share some insights into how they work together to help me serve the ill and dying.
Thay’s poetic and deep rendering of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings have been a constant source of inspiration, support, and correction for my chaplaincy practice. I’ve recited the precepts every other week since becoming an aspirant, and with each recitation the precepts reveal something new, guiding me back when I’ve strayed or reminding me that, contrary to self-judgements, I’m doing ok.
While all the precepts have at one point or another enlivened my chaplaincy, I’d like to mention a few that come up again and again.