Win a Free Book (Mine!) By Taking This Quiz

…About ten minutes after I announced this giveaway (see below), I got the two winners!  This contest is therefore closed. However, if you want to try to answer the quiz just for fun….  You can now see the  correct answers under the first comment below. The commenter happens to be the first winner, a hospice chaplain in Oregon named Jacqueline Brodsky. The second winner, from California, sings to the sick and dying in Threshold Choir and her name is Cathy Baird. Congratulations to you both!

I am giving away two copies of Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died. What’s the catch? You have to pass this quiz! The first two people who email me the correct (i.e. best) answers to all five questions will receive a print book or e-book. If the former, I can send an autographed copy. The material on this quiz covers posts since February 12th through now, and it’s an open book test!

1. Eulogies should
a. reveal only the positive aspects of a person.
b. capture the essence of a person
c. be neither too long nor too short

2. Being a chaplain is a lot like being a [Careful—this is the hardest one]
a. banker or accountant
b. football player or boxer
c. detective or journalist

3. If you read my post, “Not Even Chocolate Lasts Forever,” you might conclude,
a. I would like nothing better than to experience death by chocolate.
b. I had a hospice interview whose primary topic was chocolate
c. I am concerned that someday I will become allergic to chocolate.

4. When a new patient turns down an offer of chaplain care,
a. this might be “nothing personal” and more due to the patient’s anger at the disease or at God,or that they may already have their own clergy.
b. this means the chaplain has to offer the care again and again and again until accepted.
c. this means the chaplain has miserably failed with this particular patient.

5. A big “no-no” in hospice work is for a chaplain or social worker
a. to offer to visit a patient more than once during the time they are on hospice.
b. to report patient pain to a nurse, even though the main task of others besides nurses centers on emotional and spiritual support.
c. to ask a newly bereaved family member to become a hospice volunteer as soon as possible.

The Paradoxical Comfort of a Painful Belief

Countenancing beliefs unlike mine is one thing; that is what legit chaplains do. But listening without protest to beliefs that cause suffering, physical or otherwise, to the believer is another. I remember Sarah, who would not take pain medications because she believed God meant for her to feel pain as a way to atone for her sins. And I think about Manny, who thought the cause of his cancer was divine punishment. They were not the exception; plenty of my patients attributed their disease and their impending death to moral failures—they did not attend church often enough, they were not religious enough, they were not good enough.

You, who may be free of such torturous thoughts and rejoicing in good health, may be dismayed if not appalled that I do not put up a fight when I hear such sentiments. Doesn’t passively listening have its limits? Isn’t it cruel to let someone think cancer is a punishment? Naturally my heart yearns to shout at those patients, “NO! You don’t have to torment yourself this way!” Problem is, it wouldn’t work. I am sitting pretty, far far from the shadows of death, while they are coping with it hurrying towards them. Not only that, having a reason, even an absurd one, comforts most people. There is nothing more terrifying to them than staring in the Void of having absolutely no reason at all.

Someone wrote to me recently who does think of disease as punishment. Because he is not on hospice and had indicated that he is open to debate, I said something along the lines of, “Suppose a baby has a terminal disease. What is it being punished for? Even if the parent were being punished, then you still would have the blameless baby also being punished.”

Now suppose he is won over and says, slapping his forehead with the folly of it all: “Oh, of course, silly me! How could I think such a thing?” He very correctly could go on to say, “But what good answer to unavoidable suffering could I replace this with?” That is, he does not want to conclude that there is no reason for his suffering beyond the literal physical consequence of a body going out of whack. No matter how vociferous his objection, I still must maintain that there is no moral reason for the suffering per se. My own view, based on my own previous experience with unavoidable pain, is that despite its purely physical cause it can in fact serve a spiritual purpose. Mainly, pain has reminded me of the delicate balance of all things in my body. It has also made me ponder how forcefully the body can act to fight off anything that threatens that balance, and it has made me puzzle over the mystery of my finiteness.

This post is of course a very terse answer to a question with miles and miles (kilometers and kilometers) of “what ifs” and “buts”. Let us continue the discussion through commenting below. I furthermore invite you to look at my related article: http://offbeatcompassion.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/chaplain-shoptalk-payoffs-of-pain/
****************************
Note: I recently wrote a guest post about why I wrote Encountering The Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died which you can read here: http://www.deathwithdignity.org/2014/07/11/intimate-conversations-about-love-and-loss

Not Even Chocolate Lasts Forever

For some mysterious reason, I’ve noticed lots of recent references to chocolate in Tweets and posts by several different people. It didn’t take much for me to fall in with this trend and let myself be beguiled by it as well. At first blush, I figured the most pertinent association with offbeatcompassion would be the phrase,“death by chocolate.” It may be pertinent, but it does not evoke any memory or story,so no help there. Luckily a real link between chocolate and my career comes to mind: Just as there are plenty of stories about my patients, I have my share of stories about all the fascinating dynamics that took place in my hospice job interviews.

One of the most memorable was what I dub the “chocolate” interview. After going through the preliminary steps to being considered, I could see from the onset that the interviewer (let’s call her Constance) had virtually decided to hire me on, sight unseen, given my years of experience. She not only did not pummel me with provocative questions nor overstep the boundary between being curious and being intrusive, she scarcely talked with me at all about my qualifications. Instead, about 85% of the interview was about chocolate. Yes, chocolate. The joys of dark chocolate, favorite recipes, chocolate festivals, a certain line of brownies overpriced due to their receiving an award, and her policy to have chocolate at the ready for all her employees when they came out of the field and into the office for respite from facing death. “I believe in treating my staff well, “she asserted. “And chocolate is one important way of doing so.” I could not argue with that. Never mind the pay. When could I start?

Constance talked so sweetly (literally), I wondered when she would spring some trick question. I was almost letdown that she didn’t. Seems she was very focused on sweetening her offer with her appealing personality and lack of desire to lord it over me as my supervisor. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks after I was hired, Constance, who herself was brand-new and had even sold her home and relocated, was fired. The higher ups did not look kindly on her free spirit, nor mine, and it wasn’t long until every piece of chocolate as well as yours truly had disappeared for good from the premises.

When a Patient Just Says No

Chaplains, like anyone in the helping professions, can do more harm than good on a given occasion. Oftentimes a patient will let me know I “flunked” by not inviting me back for subsequent visits. This could be a matter of “bad chemistry” or my inadvertently making an infelicitous statement.

I vividly remember one such “thanks but no thanks” visit where my intense curiosity probably was the culprit. Sally lived in a mobile home. Not having been in one before, I was all eyes when I drove into the mobile home community. At least in that particular block, the home owners were very creative. All sorts of handmade and otherwise quirky decorations marked the outside of the homes there. Once I got into Sally’s home, I looked all around at the layout and at various pictures on the walls. I suppose I also asked some intrusive questions. Thus, curiosity got the better of me over focusing exclusively on the patient and on what she wanted to talk about. I did focus on that to be sure, but not exclusively. I was too distracted by the venue. Of course that might not have been the reason. For one thing, she had to talk in a whisper, and due to my auditory processing disorder (I hear, but my brain processes speech sounds slowly or partially), the noise of a machine she had to use for breathing competed for my attention as well. Unlike the visual stimuli, this aural competition was involuntary.

At any rate, the other chaplain working at the same hospice emphatically gave me Sally’s message the following day that from now on she wished to see only that other chaplain. I felt embarrassed about how my curiosity got the better of me. And I felt conflicted about balancing burdening a patient with an explanation of my disability, versus the inexplicable confusion she might have felt about why I had trouble listening to her.

As much as I felt ill-at-ease for disturbing the patient in some way (many ways?), I knew it was not a question of rejection, which is how many of my colleagues construe such experiences. There is in this a sorrowful irony in feeling dismissed by those who are themselves so vulnerable and hurting. It is as if such colleagues are saying to themselves, “Gee, even the neediest don’t find I make the grade.”

But sometimes saying no might not be a matter of flubbing up the visit at all. It can be a way for patients to express anger at their disease at whichever chaplain happens to cross their path that day, or even as a way to exercise the power of sending someone on their way. Anyone in the helping profession who takes a request to stop providing services has to ask themselves what the deeper personal issue is that makes them frame such a request as a rejection in the first place. As with the rest of humankind, chaplains and allied colleagues have their limitations, some of which can be modified such as overt curiosity, and some of which cannot, like the lack of ability to hear speech in the face of competing sounds. I suggest we reframe working with our limitations as a learning opportunity and as a reminder to be humble in the face of a fellow human’s turmoil. A “no” is just a “no.”

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Announcements:

Encountering the Edge is now available on Kindle on Amazon.com 

A reporter from The Observer, a regional newspaper, interviewed me about hospice care and some anecdotes from the book. You can see what I look like nowadays plus the story here: http://www.theobserver.com/?s=%22karen+b.+kaplan%22&x=13&y=10

And thanks to the exemplary citizens of the women’s Queen Adelaide Club in Australia for the impromptu book signing!

Unearthing Reasons for Some Unlikely Careers

Why I would enlist in a career as a hospice chaplain must be quite a puzzler to many. To tell the truth, I have my own list of allied professions that I could not picture myself doing, such as being a funeral director. That may strike you as illogical, since both deal with death, right? And privately, I bet everyone thinks the same thing about both professions: Why would anyone want to be in a career like that? This reaction is kin, I am sure, to when laypeople gaze upon a priest or nun and instantly think, “How can they (presumably) have given up sex?” Of all the career choices in the world, why pick ones such as these?

After officiating at a graveside ceremony recently, the funeral director and I had a chance to “hang out” and chat after all the mourners had cleared the scene and the grave diggers were going about their task (another career that is not for me). As required, the funeral director had to wait around anyway until the burial was complete. The conversation turned to comparing our jobs, and neither of us would want to trade with the other. She said, “You have to deal with the people when they are still alive, and face all their feelings about it. I could never talk to them about it. When I see families, their loved one is dead and I just go ahead and make the arrangements.”

I then told her I would be squeamish about handling the bodies and doing any work required to prepare them for burial. I would also miss establishing relationships with patients and their families, however short-lived. In the end, I asked her what people have asked me, and that is, “Why have you, and most in your profession, chosen this kind of career?” This particular director answered that it was because she was afraid of death! She even felt that was true for many of her peers. “They are trying to deal with their fear through this career and become more comfortable with death through being around it.” To me, that is quite an extreme and roundabout way to go about reducing fear. I asked some funeral directors on Twitter about this, and they felt that giving fear of death as a reason was “a stretch.”

I suppose that the reasons both on the surface and under it (approximately 6 feet under) vary from person to person, just as they do for chaplains. I think some funeral directors grew up with their parents being involved in the same profession. I think some find meaning in this career as a community service, and feel empowered by their ability to help in this way. Now that is something I can relate to: unlike so many people, my ability (and that of chaplains in general) to stand steadfastly with those facing the Beyond or those who are first setting out into the alien landscape of bereavement, gives me a special place for me to occupy in the scheme of things. Searching for a place to belong, professionally and otherwise, has been a prominent theme in my life story, and I have found that place in pastoral care and in teaching.

If you are a funeral director, hospice worker, mortician, grave digger or the like, can you express why? Can you dig deeper, so to speak, as to some of the psychological or philosophical reasons for your career choice?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Announcement: Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died (Pen-L Publishing, April 2014) is now available on Kindle.

 

Bragging Rights

For new readers hoping to get a taste of my gentle treatment of a forbidding topic, but who are left seeing me crow here instead, let me invite you to sample the archive. For articles I wrote in the good old days, including a choir that sings to the dying and a pet blessing ceremony, see July and August, 2013. Or simply scroll down to recent posts.

Warning: Here comes the shameless bragging: First, the features columnist Amy Wright Glenn for the major online newspaper Philly.com wrote a review “to die for” for Encountering the Edge. You can see it on her blog at  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/birth-breath-death/Encountering-the-Edge-What-People-Told-Me-Before-They-Died.html .   The reviewer is author of Birth, Breath, and Death:Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula. Her feature columns are enjoyed by many thousands of readers.

Second, on Amazon’s May 22nd statistics,  Encountering the Edge appeared on two specialized best seller lists out of 8 million books:

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,781 in all Books
  • #37 out of 100 in Books > Self-help > relationships > Love and Loss
  • #66 out of 100 in Books > Self-help > Death and Grief

 

Caw caw caw!

When the giddiness wears off, I look forward to providing everyone with a proper post next time. My landing page on Amazon is http://tinyurl.com/kbk-book and at the publisher’s site: http://pen-l.com/EncounteringTheEdge.html

PS I will be in Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia  June 10-24th. Let me know if you are from there!

 

In her new “career memoir,” rabbi and hospice chaplain Karen B. Kaplan shares vivid descriptions of her day-to-day experiences of serving the dying and the grieving. Drawing upon a remarkable capacity for listening, a deep appreciation for the human story, and a penchant for “comedy that flirts with sacrilege,” Kaplan navigates the waters of meaning and emotion as she supports those standing at “the edge of the beyond.” The result is a moving and beautiful account of what it means to listen, love, live, and die.

“When I visit patients for the first time, it is like skipping to the very last page of their autobiographies,” writes Kaplan.

During her seven years of service as a hospice chaplain in New York and New Jersey, Kaplan gathers quite a repertoire from which she skillfully draws in her memoir. While she changes identifying details of the people encountered, all of the stories are true.

Some of the stories Kaplan shares are remarkably sad. Often she enters a hospice patient’s room to find an unresponsive and listless being. Only the sounds of labored breathing fill the air. At times, she encounters patients who live in the clouded delusions of yesteryear. At one point, Kaplan describes an elderly woman who believes that the nursing home is her high school. She is completely oblivious to the reality of her surroundings, the identities of stunned loved ones, and her own imminent demise.

Gratefully, there are patients and families who engage with Kaplan in meaningful and inspiring reflections. In one remarkable encounter, Kaplan is able to provide a dying, elderly Jewish man with the bar mitzvah ritual he profoundly regrets wasn’t performed for him as a boy. Photos, songs, and joy follow the makeshift and spontaneous service. One week later, the man dies. Early in her memoir, Kaplan shares a moving account of meeting a woman who can only move one finger. “We are here to both receive and give love,” Kaplan intuitively tells her. The woman’s hand relaxes upon hearing these words and “her finger from the knuckle up painstakingly move[s] up and down as if nodding: ‘yes, yes, yes.’”

For those of us who have lost loved ones, stories relating to the “aftercare” provided to the grieving are particularly moving. For a year following a death, bereaved families and friends may seek out the professional support of hospice chaplains as they navigate the tumultuous waters of letting go. Kaplan tells the story of a woman who continues to call her own home phone number in order to hear her deceased husband’s voice on their answering machine. “Grief does not occur in a neatly packaged period of time with a clear beginning and a clear end,” Kaplan reminds us.

In reading through tragic, reflective, peaceful, and difficult endings, the reader can’t help but imagine what the conclusion to her or his own autobiography will entail. Will I be able to say a meaningful good-bye to those I love? How will I be remembered? Will I be able to make sense of my life as my body shuts down? And, if so, how will I grieve my own impending death?

As a scholar of comparative religion and a hospital chaplain, I found Kaplan’s reflections on the significance of God, spirituality, and religion to be particularly important. Hospital and hospice chaplains are trained to serve people regardless of spiritual or religious affiliation. Our work is not to project our own theology or understanding of life’s meaning onto a grieving family or dying person. Kaplan sees herself as “an amplifier” to affirm and highlight the treasured values and worldview of those she serves. Kaplan finds the presence of the sacred in an honest encounter between people, not in petitions for miraculous healing. “I feel prayer should be about coping with reality, not indulging a fantasy,” she writes. Kaplan reserves her only stern words in this gentle book for those who engage in efforts to convert the grieving or dying. She regards this as “the height of disrespect,” and a form of “spiritual scamming.”

“Extensive silence, not talk, is the hallmark of a professional spiritual caregiver,” Kaplan aptly notes.

While she spends a great deal of her time silently holding space for people to make sense of their earthly legacies, Kaplan also offers the gift of song. Throughout her memoir, Kaplan highlights how music in general, and singing in particular, touch the human heart as it moves closer and closer to its own final beat. Music provides a bridge between the past and present, the chaplain and patient, and the living and dying.

In reflecting upon the title of her memoir Encountering the Edge, Kaplan observes that she encounters “the edge” of both life and death as she “stands next to [her] clients as they totter at the boundary between the known and unknown.” Kaplan remains agnostic about whether an afterlife exists. Yet, there is one thing she knows for certain. “Even after all these years of occasionally being with persons within minutes or hours of their deaths, I still feel a sense of mystery in their presence,” she writes.

In Kaplan’s final chapter, she catapults the reader into the spring of 2049. By this time, Kaplan is 91-years-old and reflecting upon the meaning of her own autobiography. She imagines what it may be like to talk with a hospice chaplain herself. It is through this dialogue — the only fictional portion of her book — that readers are able to more fully come to understand the significance of writing and chaplaincy service in Kaplan’s own life story. We learn more about her remarkable resilience leading to the development of a “rich inner life” despite the brokenness of her mother and damaging childhood environment.

Encountering the Edge serves as a clear and needed reminder to reflect upon mortality in a culture built upon marketing the newest and latest stimulant and distraction. What meaning can be found when facing the end of life? What legacy does each individual leave behind? How can we live in a way that honors what matters most?

“Just as a magnifying glass intensifies the sun’s heat on any object beneath it, a funeral forces us into a highly concentrated examination of our mortality and its possible sequel,” Kaplan observes. Encountering the Edge is not only a must-read for those involved in serving the dying and grieving — for all of us will one day stand at the threshold point between this existence and the mystery beyond. Kaplan’s work serves as its own magnifying glass focusing our attention, and inspiring reflection, upon the significance of death’s inevitability and the beauty of existence.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/birth-breath-death/Encountering-the-Edge-What-People-Told-Me-Before-They-Died.html#2qXOT7HMkpzoM8ft.99

In her new “career memoir,” rabbi and hospice chaplain Karen B. Kaplan shares vivid descriptions of her day-to-day experiences of serving the dying and the grieving. Drawing upon a remarkable capacity for listening, a deep appreciation for the human story, and a penchant for “comedy that flirts with sacrilege,” Kaplan navigates the waters of meaning and emotion as she supports those standing at “the edge of the beyond.” The result is a moving and beautiful account of what it means to listen, love, live, and die.

“When I visit patients for the first time, it is like skipping to the very last page of their autobiographies,” writes Kaplan.

During her seven years of service as a hospice chaplain in New York and New Jersey, Kaplan gathers quite a repertoire from which she skillfully draws in her memoir. While she changes identifying details of the people encountered, all of the stories are true.

Some of the stories Kaplan shares are remarkably sad. Often she enters a hospice patient’s room to find an unresponsive and listless being. Only the sounds of labored breathing fill the air. At times, she encounters patients who live in the clouded delusions of yesteryear. At one point, Kaplan describes an elderly woman who believes that the nursing home is her high school. She is completely oblivious to the reality of her surroundings, the identities of stunned loved ones, and her own imminent demise.

Gratefully, there are patients and families who engage with Kaplan in meaningful and inspiring reflections. In one remarkable encounter, Kaplan is able to provide a dying, elderly Jewish man with the bar mitzvah ritual he profoundly regrets wasn’t performed for him as a boy. Photos, songs, and joy follow the makeshift and spontaneous service. One week later, the man dies. Early in her memoir, Kaplan shares a moving account of meeting a woman who can only move one finger. “We are here to both receive and give love,” Kaplan intuitively tells her. The woman’s hand relaxes upon hearing these words and “her finger from the knuckle up painstakingly move[s] up and down as if nodding: ‘yes, yes, yes.’”

For those of us who have lost loved ones, stories relating to the “aftercare” provided to the grieving are particularly moving. For a year following a death, bereaved families and friends may seek out the professional support of hospice chaplains as they navigate the tumultuous waters of letting go. Kaplan tells the story of a woman who continues to call her own home phone number in order to hear her deceased husband’s voice on their answering machine. “Grief does not occur in a neatly packaged period of time with a clear beginning and a clear end,” Kaplan reminds us.

In reading through tragic, reflective, peaceful, and difficult endings, the reader can’t help but imagine what the conclusion to her or his own autobiography will entail. Will I be able to say a meaningful good-bye to those I love? How will I be remembered? Will I be able to make sense of my life as my body shuts down? And, if so, how will I grieve my own impending death?

As a scholar of comparative religion and a hospital chaplain, I found Kaplan’s reflections on the significance of God, spirituality, and religion to be particularly important. Hospital and hospice chaplains are trained to serve people regardless of spiritual or religious affiliation. Our work is not to project our own theology or understanding of life’s meaning onto a grieving family or dying person. Kaplan sees herself as “an amplifier” to affirm and highlight the treasured values and worldview of those she serves. Kaplan finds the presence of the sacred in an honest encounter between people, not in petitions for miraculous healing. “I feel prayer should be about coping with reality, not indulging a fantasy,” she writes. Kaplan reserves her only stern words in this gentle book for those who engage in efforts to convert the grieving or dying. She regards this as “the height of disrespect,” and a form of “spiritual scamming.”

“Extensive silence, not talk, is the hallmark of a professional spiritual caregiver,” Kaplan aptly notes.

While she spends a great deal of her time silently holding space for people to make sense of their earthly legacies, Kaplan also offers the gift of song. Throughout her memoir, Kaplan highlights how music in general, and singing in particular, touch the human heart as it moves closer and closer to its own final beat. Music provides a bridge between the past and present, the chaplain and patient, and the living and dying.

In reflecting upon the title of her memoir Encountering the Edge, Kaplan observes that she encounters “the edge” of both life and death as she “stands next to [her] clients as they totter at the boundary between the known and unknown.” Kaplan remains agnostic about whether an afterlife exists. Yet, there is one thing she knows for certain. “Even after all these years of occasionally being with persons within minutes or hours of their deaths, I still feel a sense of mystery in their presence,” she writes.

In Kaplan’s final chapter, she catapults the reader into the spring of 2049. By this time, Kaplan is 91-years-old and reflecting upon the meaning of her own autobiography. She imagines what it may be like to talk with a hospice chaplain herself. It is through this dialogue — the only fictional portion of her book — that readers are able to more fully come to understand the significance of writing and chaplaincy service in Kaplan’s own life story. We learn more about her remarkable resilience leading to the development of a “rich inner life” despite the brokenness of her mother and damaging childhood environment.

Encountering the Edge serves as a clear and needed reminder to reflect upon mortality in a culture built upon marketing the newest and latest stimulant and distraction. What meaning can be found when facing the end of life? What legacy does each individual leave behind? How can we live in a way that honors what matters most?

“Just as a magnifying glass intensifies the sun’s heat on any object beneath it, a funeral forces us into a highly concentrated examination of our mortality and its possible sequel,” Kaplan observes. Encountering the Edge is not only a must-read for those involved in serving the dying and grieving — for all of us will one day stand at the threshold point between this existence and the mystery beyond. Kaplan’s work serves as its own magnifying glass focusing our attention, and inspiring reflection, upon the significance of death’s inevitability and the beauty of existence.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/birth-breath-death/Encountering-the-Edge-What-People-Told-Me-Before-They-Died.html#2qXOT7HMkpzoM8ft.99 The reviewer is Amy Wright Glenn, M.A., Author of Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula”

The Phone Call That Almost Wasn’t

 

One of my readers, a hospice volunteer, submitted a poignant account to Offbeatcompassion. She was definitely in the right hospital room at just the right time of the patient’s life, and had to strike a delicate balance between hinting at possibilities and violating confidentiality:

She writes,“Volunteering is great – there’s always some grace among the mundane. As I was making my rounds in the hospital, I happened to be in a room with a dying patient when the phone rang beside his bed. The person on the other end was an old friend calling from a thousand miles away who had just found out his friend was in the hospital (let alone dying). I remarked to the caller that I didn’t think this patient would be able to hold the phone at this point and was quite sleepy, but I could at least hold the phone to his ear anyway. The friend hesitantly said that ‘Maybe um I should call back at a better time.’  I told him he better go for it now because ‘you never know…’ etc. (I can’t reveal much about a person’s condition of course.) When I put the phone to the patient’s ear and he heard his friend’s voice, he grinned from ear to ear and attempted responses as best he could. I was so happy to facilitate that conversation because I would be surprised if that patient made it through the night. I hope that when his friend receives the news of his death, he’ll be comforted that he didn’t take a chance on calling back another time.”

We tend to think there is plenty of latitude for loving occurrences, whereas the slightest variable can shrink that opportunity to near zero in a flash. Do you have a story about seizing the moment?

 ################################################

Announcement: In case you missed it, the Secular Chaplain, on guard against religious platitudes and lover of the inherent sacred beauty of nature, reviewed Encountering the Edge. I (whew!) passed his phony-use-of-religion test: http://secularchaplain.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/dying-to-read-this-book/