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The Contemplative Practitioner: Spiritual Care at End of Life CAPPE National Conference, Banff, Alberta. Zinia Pritchard D.Min (cand.) Covenant-Health,

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Presentation on theme: "The Contemplative Practitioner: Spiritual Care at End of Life CAPPE National Conference, Banff, Alberta. Zinia Pritchard D.Min (cand.) Covenant-Health,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Contemplative Practitioner: Spiritual Care at End of Life CAPPE National Conference, Banff, Alberta. Zinia Pritchard D.Min (cand.) Covenant-Health, Grey Nuns

2 Objectives To explore dying as a contemplative spirituality To illustrate the dimensions of contemplative Spiritual Care at end of life –To invite the exploration of the contemplative dimensions of one’s own therapeutic practice

3 A contemplative dynamic of dying Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

4 Research Question What is a dying patient’s lived experience of being spiritually awakened? Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

5 Nancy, a single, divorced woman of 42 years of age is dying. We enter her story in the darkness of night…

6 “Please God I need you, to hug me and hold me!” Suddenly, I feel an unexpected physical presence. An incredible calm takes over my whole body. I am with God. Incredible! Beautiful! Finding His voice, finding His presence in my bedroom and feeling it there and knowing that something magical has happened. I am with God – I haven’t died yet but I’m with God! Cradled like this in His arms – I calm right down. All my fear is gone. I know, now, that it is safe to die; that whatever is going to happen to me is going to be very, very good.”

7 Theme: Impasse No one can find another drug that will work for me. Why? Why would God close every single door when it works for someone else? It’s like being trapped in a cage. That God you trust and believe in, allowing that to happen. I’m asking, ‘can you get me out of this?’ But you can’t get out of it. How do you understand something like that? Surely you’re not the only person in the entire world there’s no option for, that all the most common options don’t work for, why? Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

8 Exploring: Impasse How would we describe the experience of impasse?

9 Impasse To ask or live the question, “Why?” To be unable to make sense of your lived reality. To grieve the loss of a belief about yourself, others or Other. To see no seeming way out of your predicament, “trapped.” To strive to manage and control the situation but remain “stuck.” Unable to “get out of it.” To feel the very real and finite walls of your limits. To be “in the dark.” Not know the way. Be at your wits end. To be afraid of the unknown To taste the bitter pill of incapacity to save yourself To experience the vulnerability and nakedness of being emptied out

10 Contemplative Wisdom Impasse

11 A genuine impasse situation is such that the more action one applies to escape it, the worse it gets. The principles of ‘first order change’ – reason, logic, analysis, planning – do not work…genuine change occurs through a ‘second order response Constance Fitzgerald, 2. The Dark Night of the Soul and Impasse

12 Contemplative Wisdom Kenosis: Passive Dimension

13 Kenosis: To be emptied out Now, dressed in the working clothes of aridity and desolation, all her earlier lights darkened, the soul shines more clearly in the virtue of self- knowledge...She finds absolutely no satisfaction in self. She knows that on her own she neither does nor can do anything. St. John The Dark Night: Bk 1,Chap.12:2

14 Theme: The Movement Toward Transcendence “Please God I need you, to hug me and hold me!”

15 Theme: The Movement Toward Transcendence “It doesn’t make sense. I keep coming back to that ‘Why?”...What’s so strange, [about it is] I have to trust it…give myself to it…. [Dying] is that total surrender…you can’t push it away or run from it. You have to go through it. [In my prayer] I gave my soul over to God and said, ‘You’re will be done’ and God’s presence was with me then.” Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

16 Exploring: The Movement toward Transcendence How would we describe the experience of moving toward Transcendence?

17 To Chose to Surrender: It is as if our hold on what we have known of our personal reality teeters on the edge of a cliff and finally relinquishes its hold, surrendering itself to the Other. To die to self is “that total surrender…you can’t push it away or run from it. You have to go through it.” The ego self attached to the ability to do, accomplish, manage and control, gives way to the inner self that moves and lives and has its being in Transcendence, “I gave myself over.”

18 Movement Toward Transcendence To feel the under tow of panic pull out an instinctual cry to the beyond: “Help!” “Please!” Please, God!” To “let-go” the need to relate to the unknown by trying to understand it. To chose, perhaps irrationally, to relate to what we can not grasp by “giving ourselves to it.” To choose to empty ourselves To chose to surrender our selves.

19 Contemplative Wisdom Surrender

20 Spiritual surrender is a deliberate act of the will, not a breaking of the will…it does not come without resistance – a good indication that it has everything to do with our active free will. We experience a loss of our ego-self, the self that we possess when we freely choose to place our complete trust in the Other. It’s like taking a breath in and then jumping out of a plane in the firm hope (never certainty) that the parachute will open and carry you safely down. Krisher, J. (1998). Spiritual Surrender: Yielding Yourself to a Loving God.

21 Contemplative Wisdom Kenosis: Active Dimension Faith, Hope, Love

22 Kenosis & Faith To Detach from: The intellect’s reliance on concepts and images in order to understand: –“Why would God close every single door when it works for someone else? … That God you trust and believe in, allowing that to happen” To Move Toward: Faith as a means of coming to knowledge –“I gave my soul over to God and said, ‘You’re will be done.’” Rolheiser, R. Shattered Lantern. 96.

23 Faith…is now at cross purposes with our ability to make logical sense out of life, death or eternity…it is faith that moves us into the Mystery which is unimaginable, incomprehensible and uncontrollable. Constance Fitzgerald, 446. (1986b). The Transformative Influence of Wisdom in John of the Cross.

24 Kenosis & Hope To Detach from: Relating partially to Reality through what we believe we already know and the security that brings: –“It doesn’t make sense. I keep coming back to that ‘Why?” To Move Toward: Hope that Reality, as it really is, will be made known to us. –“...What’s so strange, [about it is] I have to trust it…give myself to it…” Rolheiser, R. Shattered Lantern. 96.

25 Hope comes into play when we are really radically at the end, unable to find any further resources to connect memories, feelings, images, and experiences of life in a meaningful pattern or promising future. Then hope, forfeiting the struggle to press meaning out of loss, becomes a free, trustful commitment to the impossible, which cannot be built out of what one possess. Constance Fitzgerald, 447. (1986b). The Transformative Influence of Wisdom in John of the Cross.

26 Kenosis & Love To Detach from: Loving/caring with expected outcomes –“That God you trust and believe in, allowing that to happen.” To Move Toward: love /caring without condition –“I gave my soul over to God and said, ‘You’re will be done. ’” Rolheiser, R. Shattered Lantern. 96.

27 Love prevents us from forcing the loved one into the constraints of our needs and so takes the beloved as he or she is. In the face of seeming rejection and affective loss,….love will not …surrender belief in its own worth and lovability. Overcoming the will to die, this love lives honestly with the pain of its own woundedness and longing. It continues to serve others, often with great effectiveness, in spite of profound affective deprivation and loss. Constance Fitzgerald, 447. (1986b). The Transformative Influence of Wisdom in John of the Cross.

28 Contemplative Wisdom Divine Habitus

29 We may be unaware of it, but we are all born with a natural and lifelong yearning for the fulfillment of love….our senses seek the beauty, the sweetness, the good feelings of [Transcendence]. Our mind seeks the truth and wisdom of Transcendence. Our will seeks to live out the goodness, the righteousness of Transcendence. Our memory and imagination seek the justice and peace of Transcendence. In other words, we yearn for the attributes of Transcendence with every part of ourselves. Gerald May, The Dark Night of the Soul, 55.

30 Theme: Contemplation: The Experience of Transcendence

31 “Suddenly, I feel an unexpected physical presence. An incredible calm takes over my whole body. I am with God. Incredible! Beautiful! Finding His voice, finding His presence in my bedroom and feeling it there. Cradled like this in His arms – I calm right down. All my fear is gone.” Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

32 Exploring the Theme of Transcendence How would we describe this experience of Transcendence?

33 The Experience of Transcendence Immediate Surprising Embodied Momentary Lifting up and out of oneself into a larger and broader Reality Connection with the All Gifted happening Being wonderfully met in our deepest need Shifting what is unresolved in impasse

34 Contemplative Wisdom The Gift of Contemplation/Transcendence

35 We must realize that to the very depths of our being that this is a pure gift of [Transcendence] which no desire, no effort and no heroism of ours can do anything to deserve or obtain. Thomas Merton. Seeds of Contemplation 149

36 Theme: The Gift of Insight within the Experience of Transcendence

37 “I am with God – I haven’t died yet but I’m with God! …I know, now, that it is safe to die; that whatever is going to happen to me is going to be very, very good.” “[ It] defined who I was right then, that I knew I was a spiritual being and all was well... The first time I realized that I still had ownership of the spiritual me…Such an awakening for me! I haven’t been robbed of – I haven’t lost me… The Spiritual Nancy!” Nancy’s Story: Phenomenological Research Project

38 Exploring the Gift of Insight within the Experience of Transcendence How would we describe the gift of insight?

39 Gift of Insight within the Experience of Transcendence Knowledge that is Immediate, pre-reflective Knowledge that is in the form of practical wisdom or insight Given knowledge: revealed Sudden, surprising, marvelous clarity that compassionately tends us Knowledge that awakens one to the transcendent reality of one’ true self Knowledge that is given in and through union with Transcendence Enlightenment where impasse gives way to spiritual awakening

40 Contemplative Wisdom Resolution of Impasse

41 The quality of paradox is at the heart of ‘second order change.’ It implies the unexpected, the alternative, the new vision, is not given on demand but is beyond conscious, rational control. It is the fruit of unconscious processes in which the situation of impasse itself becomes the focus of contemplative reflection. Constance Fitzgerald 2.

42 The Dark Night of the Soul A Creative Depiction

43 Questions for Engagement –What image touches your heart? –In what way does this image relate to your life right now? –In what way does this image relate to your practice of spiritual care?

44 Contemplative Spiritual Care Verbatim

45 This material is for educational use in the promotion of professional practice. Please acknowledge authorship Thank you © Zinia Pritchard 2010


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