I have just finished my third week of the hospice music therapy internship I am in, and my first week of seeing patients. Hospice is an amazing setting to be in and already I have met the most beautiful staff, families, and patients. Each visit is completely new and unique, I never know how things are going to go or what the person I'm serving will need in that moment, and this is teaching me something that I think is very valuable:
How to say yes.
Generally speaking I haven't been very good at this. When I was taking classes my focus was mostly on my own tasks, schedule, and to-do list, and there wasn't much room for anything else. I thrive with structure, balance, and planning. But as a music therapist in hospice care, that doesn't always work. It requires flexibility, grace, and compassion. If I arrive ready to jam out with some Beatles, but the patient needs help relaxing or wants to talk, I can't put my foot down and say, "But I practiced your favorite Beatles' songs all morning!". It's about meeting others where they are, and being open to embrace whatever shows up.
I have recently been reading about the life of a woman named Mother Gavrilia, who is a really good example of this. She traveled the world serving others through her skills as a healer and counselor, just saying yes to whatever she was asked to do and helping others in whatever way they needed at that moment. She didn't keep any money, and often didn't know where she would sleep, or what she would find when she arrived, but she said yes to whatever opened up ahead of her for the sake of serving others' needs. It was this complete openness and surrender to life and Divine guidance that allowed her to be of such tremendous use to people.
The first week of seeing patients was hard. It was busy, fast-paced, and full of emotions. There were nights I would go home and be completely exhausted. There is so much to learn so that I can better serve the people in this population and it can be overwhelming, but I did experience so many beautiful moments that each morning I woke up ready to go and see how I could be of use that day.
The other thing I have taken from Mother Gavrilia is the need to recharge - continually and consistently. For her, this looked like hours that she would spend quiet, alone, and in prayer. This is such a difficult balance to achieve - the balance between being open and saying yes but not overburdening yourself into burnout - but I am hoping to learn more about this as I go along. And in the meantime, I'm going to practice embracing whatever shows up for me and wherever I can be of service, because it's possible that that's where we truly become in harmony with others in our desire to serve each other.
If you have any tips on navigating this balance or would like to share any ways that this idea has influenced you, feel free to leave a comment!