Finding Spiritual Meaning in Life
Most of my interviews with volunteers take place in a local coffee shop, a community space that provides a comfortable environment for conversation. But the interview with Sky Yeasayer was different; she chose to come to my house, and was comfortable sitting and talking in my personal space. I mention this because it is an example of her quiet strength that perhaps emanates from a strong spiritual practice, one that encompasses contemplation of impermanence and non-attachment in life.
Not one for chit-chat (self disclosure), we delved right in to the Hosparus volunteer experience and what it has meant to her life. Not surprisingly, Sky’s volunteer work with Hosparus coincides with her interest living a life of profound meaning and connection. Somehow, she can beautifully capture what this meant in a simple sentence.
“My work is a great reminder of the preciousness of life,” she said.
But beyond that reminder, comes an even deeper sense of honor that Sky feels when she can claim the role of Hosparus Volunteer.
It was interesting to hear about Sky’s entry into Hosparus. She, like many volunteers, experienced an institutional and sudden death of a parent. And, she expressed that: “Almost everyone has a Hospice story.” But what really re-opened her curiosity about end of life was her work in a local medical office where she reviewed medical records of which included reviewing death summaries. Coinciding with this experience, she stumbled upon a local program (no longer in existence) called No One Dies Alone—and the title moved her to action.
In her sweet tone of voice, she said it was: “Just heartbreaking to entertain the thought of someone dying alone.”
As we continued to talk, Sky described the process of becoming a volunteer as somewhat arduous, but that it was worth the effort because it fulfills a mission within her. In her quiet way, visits with Hosparus patients allow her to practice being present with that person. She describes a process of calming her mind prior to entering a home or care center, a simple practice designed to ready herself for service.
In her words, “I try to set aside anything else that may be going on so I can attend to this individual who has a limited time here.” As part of this commitment to being present for a patient, Sky doesn’t stop at simply striving to be present; she puts it into real practice. I listened intently as she talked about a creative approach to sitting by the bedside of a sleeping or non responsive patient, a practice that includes sharing a silent personal meditation, focusing on a topic such as forgiveness, and imagining what things her patient may have had to forgive.
She later says, “I feel like it is the best gift I can give to that person.”
The beauty of the perspectives that Sky was able to articulate about her work as a Hosparus volunteer have remained with me long after our first interview. In response to my last question, asking if life had changed or been enhanced by the experience, she thoughtfully responded, “That is hard to distinguish because the unfolding of everything does change me, the mysteries are life-changing.”
A profound thought shared by a most thoughtful person.
Sky is a volunteer with Hosparus
- Remember the preciousness of life
- Share the gift of being fully present with others