Contemplative Service in Hospice

Coming from the perspective of someone who has survived cancer certainly puts you in a place to understand, at least partially, what our hospice residents are going through.   One thing I‚Äôm sure of – that as much as we are there to help our residents on their journey, they are there to help us too.   The depth of one woman‚Äôs emotional pain was so great, it was as though she were having a ‚ÄúMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?‚Äù moment.  (One can only imagine the anguish that Mary felt when Jesus uttered those words.)  Throughout that moment though, I felt God was in the midst of both of us, grieving with us, and through us.   Thankfully, she passed away soon after and is finally at peace.   

For me personally, volunteering at Crossroads House has been blessing.  There are so many wonderful people that pass through our doors.  I know it‚Äôs not for everyone, but for those of us that do it, it seems to be a calling.  I started volunteering after my father passed away.  I was sitting with him during his final hours and it was during that time that my thoughts seemed to still.   During the days after his death, while I was reflecting on all the acts of kindness I was shown and the dignity with which he was allowed to die, I became aware of something else.  There was another dimension, or Presence, that I later recognized as a Divine Presence, in that hospital room.  All I can compare it to is when you are in the dressing room of a department store and looking in a three-way mirror.  You are looking at yourself, but you are aware of something in your peripheral vision.   The Divine was shining through all the people I was encountering.  It was an intensely powerful and humbling experience and I feel as though it was a final gift from my father. My hope through volunteering at Crossroads is that someone else can come to feel that Presence as well.   It is the main reason I do it.  I‚Äôve come to know that God‚Äôs work can be something as simple as pouring a cup of coffee for a family member or mopping the floor, so I just do my thing – and let God do the rest of the work!

Noreen Tillotson
Wyoming, NY