A hospice worker, Lynn McDougal attended the course/retreat, “Preparing for Death, Caring for the Dying,” at the Abbey in May, 2010. She sent us this message a week or so after the retreat.
I have to thank you once more for such stellar teachings about, and opportunities to consider the great matter of our deaths and how to best serve those who are dying. I continue to sit and review my notes while beginning to actually implement (rather than procrastinate on) the things I said I would do.
One of the things that came up for me with regard to how to keep my balance during the time I am working on all this was to really put effort into cultivating joy. I decided to start a Joy Journal and vowed to put down at least one thing every day….no days are allowed to be blank. The other piece is to really make sure that the experience brought JOY, not just “Oh, isn’t that wonderful, pretty, nice, sweet.” This won’t be just something that makes me feel a bit thankful (although it isn’t possible to feel real joy without gratitude arising almost simultaneously). What I am actually doing is going for those “little moments that make one dance” as Koho Zenji explained them to Reverend Master Jiyu. These are the moments I find which lift and brighten the heart and mind and really make inroads for bodhicitta to arise and flow. I have been wonderfully surprised in the past few days how many of those moments appear while I am with my patients. Experiencing joy isn’t the first idea people come up with when you say you work with hospice patients.