2022 Thirty Days of Love – Days 13 – 15

Thirty Days of Love – Day 13

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting a patient in a hospice facility. I’ve never met this patient or their family. Apparently, the patient is a Unitarian Universalist who was moved here from out of state by caring family members.

As a seminarian, I worked at a hospice facility for ten hours per week for a year. When talking about my hospice work with a friend, she said, “I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t know what to say.” Usually, it’s not about saying anything. It’s more about being present with, listening to, empathizing with. It’s not really about talking other than reflecting back what people are saying. Perhaps it’s about getting them to talk rather than me saying anything.

One of my fellow seminarians described the role of the hospice or hospital chaplain as being a “professional stranger;” which makes it sound like the role often asked of your average bartender.

Maybe these two occupations are more similar than you might imagine….but at least the bartender knows how to make you a stiff drink!


Thirty Days of Love – Day 14

As a hospice chaplain, I’d visit patients in a hospice facility but I’d also have to set up appointments with patients who were in home hospice. I called one such patient named Deborah:

“Hi Deborah, this is Dave Dunn the chaplain for the hospice facility. I’d like to set up an appointment to come out to meet with you some time. Is there a time this week that would be good for you?”

She replies in a sweet sing-song voice, “Oh, hi Dave, it’s so nice to talk with you. I’m sure we could set up a time for you to visit with me. Right now however, I’m very busy with my preparations for the holidays. I’m getting my Christmas gift list together for all my nieces and nephews; and all the Christmas cards I have to write…. I love the holidays but it’s such a busy time. It’s my favorite time of the year. I do have to get my rest but I want to make sure I get everything in the mail on time. You know how it goes.”

We had perhaps a half dozen such conversations during Deborah’s time in hospice – phone conversations…..And they were all basically the same. I tried to make an appointment with her but she always put me off, speaking of how busy she was with this and that. We’d speak for perhaps half an hour each time…yet, she never spoke of the cancer.

I never actually got to meet Deborah in person. She died before we could ever meet. I believe she was simply too frightened to meet; too frightened of the cancer that was ravaging her body to even acknowledge that it was even taking place.

She had such a sweet, sing-song voice that, I admit, I liked to listen to; but I think that sing-song voice hid how terrified she was deep down inside. I still think about this patient a lot. I wish we could have met. I think it could have been productive for her…but ultimately, I don’t know.


Thirty Days of Love – Day 15

A congregant, reading a book by Ann Patchett, someone I have not read, said “I’ve learned more about Catholicism from her books than I did from actually going to a Catholic Church.”  I guess I’ll have to read some Ann Patchett!!!

Christian philosopher and educator Phillip Cary, in one of his Great Courses lectures, concisely described the doctrine of the Trinity this way: “The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father…yet, there is only one God.”


Books and books and books have been written about the doctrine of the Trinity.  St. Augustine’s “One the Trinity” contains 15 books alone. To me, when this much is written about a topic, it’s generally a red flag to indicate that nobody really knows what they’re talking about.

I’m not knocking Christianity. All religions/denominations seem to do stuff like this.  Theologians and philosophers should apply Ockham’s Razor (credited to 14th century Franciscan Friar William of Ockham) more often. To me Ockham’s Razor says, “don’t add a bunch of stuff that doesn’t need to be added” to your theology or philosophy.

Ockham’s Razor does not apply to nachos! 😊