When you are being of service to other people, you need to leave a lot of room for mystery.
That’s one of those lines that you can easily read, nod your head, and move on. It’s not something that’s too intellectually challenging to wrap your mind around, truly.
It is a different thing to really absorb, though, and to keep top of mind, especially, oh you know, when it’s deep into the second hour, and you’ve shifted several times IN THE LAST MINUTE on this fold-out chair, and caught yourself once or twice going through your shopping list and pulled yourself mentally back to bed-side. And then you’re struck by..well, not to put too fine a point on it, but the ABSOLUTE ABSURDITY of you sitting there, not even able to hold a hand because she’s got them tucked away, and you’re on this damnable folding chair anyway, which isn’t high enough to comfortably reach across the bed to grab onto anything, and anyway, WHAT AM I REALLY DOING HERE, what is the POINT of this??
Then. Then is a good time to go back to the quote.
One thing about hospice volunteering is that we’re not going to draft letters to Thomas Merton wondering how it is we can keep moving forward without seeing much progress. There is. No. Progress. And our patients die. And that dread fact is an immediately obvious gate-keeper. Hospice volunteers have made their peace with that even before Day One. And our volunteer managers have screened for it. We would have not have arrived bed-side with some murky understanding of what, literally, we are called to do.
However..here on this chair (seriously! this chair! I’m going to start bringing my own stadium cushion!), we can begin to wonder what it is we’re actually doing. And then that whole mystery thing isn’t so much a little platitude that makes us sit up a little straighter, it’s the only thing that keeps us on that chair.