What is your religious bent? Many of us grow up with a connection to one religious ideology or another but as we evolve these ties may, for a variety of reasons, grow stronger, take on a new dimension, weaken or disappear altogether. It’s important for anyone in the role of hospice chaplain — make that any chaplain — to assess the belief, or non-belief system, of the patient.
On Wednesday, I went to yoga and returned home in time to meet the hospice chaplain. At some point, I felt compelled to interrupt his monologue with a comment that John was very much a scientist and not a believer per se, which the chaplain didn’t seem to hear, as he continued along his self-professed tangent. On Thursday, the Rev. Kim Beach, who had married us, stopped by. He asked John a lot of questions about his life, which John answered forthrightly and thoughtfully. He knew that John, who had grown up as a Presbyterian, was an independent thinker who had read widely on religion and subscribed to an eclectic variety of tenets but was not a member of any recognized religion. The Rev. Beach had taken his measure of John’s character and beliefs, which informed his interaction with John. I didn’t realize at the time, although it may have registered in my subconscious, that this man would speak at John’s memorial service.