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Canon in D
Joan Paddock Maxwell didn’t set out to become a chaplain–but she got a calling to the work, unexpectedly. As she puts it, “it’s not the type of call you get on the phone”–instead it was the mysterious call to assist others during their times of need at the end of life, which she performed at three acute-care hospitals in the Washington, DC area during her expansive career.
During our conversation, Joan explains that while people might not always be religious, they’re at least spiritual in one of five ways: Religion, Nature, Things of Beauty Created by Human Hands (photos, paintings, songs, etc.), a Deep Interpersonal Relationship, and The Soul (being aware that you’re more than just a body–that something inside that’s seeking something). Being able to find out the way that people most relate to the world spiritually has allowed her to make connections with thousands of patients during her career and assist them through their end of life, and for many, their final moments.
Joan shares these reflections, in addition to her first-hand stories with patients, in her book, Soul Support: Spiritual Encounters at Life’s End: Memoir of a Hospital Chaplain.
Of the many takeaways from this conversation with Joan was the importance of recognizing the present for the gift it truly is:
“The one thing that you and I own right now is this present moment, and if you’re really aware of that, it changes life for you. You make decisions for different reasons.”