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by The Reverend Jill M. Bowden of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, and Director of Chaplaincy Services at Mermorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC

From “This is It,” by Alan Watts:

This is it

And I am it

And you are it

And so it that.

He is it

And she is it

And it is it

And that is that.

This IS it: this moment in time is all we have….and now this one…and now this one. 

Just for this moment – accept that you are present, and in being present, remember that being present does not mean that you are in agreement with everything that is happening.

Perhaps you have noticed, I know I have, a certain increase in ‘edginess’ in these difficult days; a certain decreased level of civility.  Since the tragic and terrible deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner,  and others whose names did not make the national news, human relationships are increasingly strained in public places.  It is uncomfortable.

A colleague recently said to me that ‘soon the tension will fade and things will go back to being the way they were.’  I hope they don’t.  ‘The way they were’ denotes an imbalance in the dynamics of human interactions that needs to change; there has been a power imbalance that needs to be rectified.  The only way to do this is that people who have power – white people – need to give up some of that power so that other people – people of color – can have their rightful share.

Living in times of unrest means that we each need to be aware of living out of our own humanity.  We must live fully in the moment, mindfully engaging our empathy, daring to be vulnerable and focusing on that which is greater than ourselves in order to be resilient and to continue our moment by moment practice of purposeful awareness.

A fellow seminary of mine took a meditation class with a Buddhist instructor in order to help her recognize what it means to be totally present.  Sitting zazen with her class one day, she suddenly had a moment of clarity and jumped up, shouting “I get it!”  Excited, she said to her teacher, “Am I enlightened?”  And her teacher replied, “Well, you were.”

As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening, it simply acknowledges that what is happening is happening. Acceptance doesn’t tell you what to do. What happens next, what you choose (my emphasis) to do has to come out of your understanding of this moment.  Try acting out of a deep knowing that ‘This is it.’”

Perhaps Judy Chicago said it best in “The Merger Poem”

And then all that has divided us will merge.
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind.
And then both men and women will be gentle.
And then both women and men will be strong.
And then no person will be subject to another’s will.
And then all will be rich and free and varied.
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many.
And then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance.
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old.
And then all will nourish the young.
And then all will cherish life’s creatures.
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth.
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

May it be so in this and in all worlds; Amen, Salaam, Shalom, Om Shanti, Peace, Blessed Be.



At this holiday season, there are so many people who are seriously ill, are caregivers for loved ones, or are grieving. HealthCare Chaplaincy Network's staff and Board were honored to call attention to how professional chaplains bring spiritual and emotional support to those in distress as they rang the bell at the Nasdaq stock market closing on Friday, December 12th in New York's Times Square. See photos below.


Best Wishes for the Holidays and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Photos courtesy Nasdaq:



From US News & World Report: http://bit.ly/1w3pJ6Q

Patients with a serious illness can feel better.

By Thomas Mitchinson
Special to the Chicago Daily Herald

My dad's favorite Christmas carol was "Home for the Holidays." I think, having been raised in Pennsylvania, he loved the lyrics about the man heading home to that state for some "homemade pumpkin pie."

But there are individuals who will not be home for the holidays this year, because they are hospitalized or in a care facility. For them, the holidays can be lonely and sad, especially if they are facing a serious health crisis. And, these feelings are not good for one's health or recovery.


"Loneliness, even when surrounded by many caregivers, can be quite a problem, often accompanied by despair," said the Rev. Kevin Massey, vice president of mission and spiritual care at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

Massey has made it a point to help those who are away from home during the holidays.

"I have always felt it a great privilege to be in the hospital on Christmas Eve. When you think about it, the holiday time, no matter what religious background you may have, is a particularly sensitive time to be away from loved ones. I find it important to help people find a place to pray or observe their religious celebrations."

Following a current worldwide trend, Massey spoke of the importance of spiritual care teams. These teams are made up of clergy and lay people willing to meet the spiritual, as well as the physical, needs of those hospitalized.

Massey said, "There has been an increasing nurturing of those human domains -- a real shift in thought. Individuals need to be treated as whole people -- meeting their spiritual needs, as well as their physical, emotional and social. Any health care provider does their best work when approaching people from that human perspective."

Some research has shown that praying with others and showing compassion and love, not only helps individuals overcome their loneliness, but also improves their health.

We all have the ability to overcome loneliness, to feel loved and be well, Massey said.

"Everyone has a spiritual perspective," Massey said, "For some people it is from a certain religion -- formal or not. I try to connect with everyone's spiritual perspective. We all have value as a child of God."

Taking this further, Massey said, "We can make every place a place of healing. Gratitude is a way to bring healing into our lives no matter where we are, but especially when facing a health crisis."

He reminisced, "I remember an encounter I once had with a patient which left an indelible mark on me -- one I have never forgotten. A patient had received a bad diagnosis. I went to see her in her hospital room and found a person who was brightening the room with her own smile and presence. She reasoned that I was there because of the diagnosis she had received, but she told me that instead of despair, she had a feeling of thankfulness for all that she had received throughout her life. 'As I look back,' she told me, 'it is with deep gratitude for all I have had and have been able to receive."

Massey said, "Gratitude has the power to take the exact same situation and make our lives experience it differently."

Such gratitude may not just leave us comforted, but may help in our healing, he added.

No matter where you are this holiday season, Massey advises expressing gratitude -- it can counteract loneliness and actually heal you.

• Thomas (Tim) Mitchinson is a self-syndicated columnist writing on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. He is also the media spokesman for Christian Science in Illinois. You can contact him at illinois@compub.org.


If you know someone dealing with cancer, please tell them about a new, free Living with Cancer Support Group for emotional & spiritual support. Details & sign up:  http://bit.ly/1wTsQp7


Today at 3:45-4 pm watch live online at https://new.livestream.com/nasdaq/live  as HCCN staff rings the Nasdaq stock market closing bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square.


Exciting news in support of professional healthcare chaplaincy! Today, Dec. 12, 2014, the Nasdaq stock market will host HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) staff at its MarketSite in  New York's Times Square. In honor of the occasion, Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN President and Chief Executive Officer, will ring the Closing Bell. Time: 3:45 to 4 pm ET.

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network is a national healthcare nonprofit organization that offers spiritual-related information and resources, and professional chaplaincy services in hospitals, other healthcare settings, and online.



HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Inc. (HCCN) will host a seminar on December 18 that will guide chaplains and other health care professionals in assisting patients and their families throughout each phase of the dying process.

The presenter will be Samuel C. Klagsbrun, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in the Bronx, N.Y., and executive medical director and owner of Four Winds Hospitals in New York State. The psychiatrist is a member of HCCN’s board of directors.

Klagsbrun will discuss the dying process and the differing needs of patients and their families during each phase; how to help families prepare for loss; and practical matters, such as funeral arrangements and financial and legal issues.

The 90-minute seminar will begin at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and participants can attend in person at HCCN’s headquarters in New York or via webcast. Registration is $35 in advance and $50 the day of the event for in-person attendance, and $50 per computer terminal for the webcast. To register, visit http://bit.ly/1wrQ8Cf.  For more information, call 212-644-1111 x235.

The event is part of HCCN’s monthly “Spiritual Care Grand Rounds Series.” The series is designed for chaplains, palliative care team members, and other health care professionals, such as social workers and nurses, who are involved in the spiritual-related needs of patients and their families in hospital or outpatient settings.


Read How Many Palliative Care Clinicians Report Burnout: ow.ly/Dwq3M   Chaplains are a cost-effective resource to reduce this  Learn more at http://bit.ly/1vgCU4J


Chronic Pain Calls for Compassionate Listening.Yes! Who are expert listeners? Professional chaplains.ow.ly/Dwx8T 


You can read chaplains' stories and best practices in this new article Who Decides When to "Pull the Plug" and What is the Chaplain's Responsibility? http://bit.ly/1w9wTwf 

This is very timely with the news coverage this week about the Institute of Medicine's important "Dying in America" report which has positive implications for professional chaplaincy: http://nyti.ms/1mbnvo9


EmblemHealth Now a Sponsor of ChaplainsOnHand.org  & ChatWithAChaplain   

More than 60,000 people dealing with the spiritual distress resulting from serious illness and grief have turned to the unique online service ChaplainsOnHand.org to find comfort regardless of religion or beliefs since its introduction by the nonprofit HealthCare Chaplaincy Network earlier this year. In addition, more than a thousand people have requested to chat with a chaplain by email or phone or to be remembered in prayer.

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network created ChaplainsOnHand.org and ChatWithAChaplain to provide professional-quality spiritual care for the countless people who feel they have nowhere else to turn to find relief from the big issues that weigh on their minds when coping with a new or ongoing health crisis or bereavement.

EmblemHealth is now a sponsor of these services, as part of its Care for the Family Caregiver program. As a health and wellness company, EmblemHealth has championed family caregivers for over a decade, providing tools and resources to help them navigate the family caregiving journey.  

"We are thrilled that EmblemHealth has joined with us to sponsor these much needed and first of their kind services to help those in spiritual distress: whoever they are, whatever they believe," says HealthCare Chaplaincy Network president and CEO Rev. Eric J. Hall. "The ChaplainsOnHand website has considerable information and resources written by highly experienced, professional chaplains. People who have chatted with chaplains say that the conversations have made quite a positive difference for them."

About EmblemHealth
EmblemHealth, Inc., through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP), provides quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 3.4 million people. Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO plans, as well as coverage for prescription drugs and dental and vision care. EmblemHealth offers a choice of networks, including quality doctors and other health care professionals throughout the region, leading acute care hospitals across the tri-state area, and physicians and hospitals across all 50 states.
For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.

About HealthCare Chaplaincy Network
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network is a national health care organization that helps people faced with illness, suffering and grief find comfort and meaning in hospitals, online, and elsewhere: whoever they are, whatever they believe, wherever they are. Its mission is to advance the integration of spiritual care in health care through clinical practice, research, and education in order to improve patient experience, satisfaction, and outcomes. It has been caring for the human spirit since 1961.
Learn more at www.healthcarechaplaincy.org


This annual event (this year October 19-25) is a great opportunity for healthcare institutions to recognize the important and often unrecognized work and gifts of spiritual caregivers in their midst and to inform patients, family members, and staff that they are available to help.

Find resources and items to spread the message here


Dear Colleague,

You are invited to participate in a research survey that looks at the role of spirituality, broadly defined as meaning purpose and connectedness, in healthcare. Dr. Christina M. Puchalski, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish) and Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University (GWU) is the principal investigator (PI). Taking part in this survey is entirely voluntary.

The purpose of this survey is to evaluate healthcare professionals' attitudes and comfort levels integrating spirituality in patient care and self-care. Your input is very important because the information from this survey will help us develop topics for a future training program.

There are no physical risks associated with this study. All information you provide will be treated as confidential and will be used only for research or statistical purposes by GWish. Any information publicly released (such as statistical summaries) will be in a form that does not personally identify you.

To ensure anonymity, your contact information is not required in this survey. Your willingness to participate is implied if you choose to take part in this survey by clicking the survey link below. The total amount of time you will spend on this survey is about 5 minutes. You may refuse to answer any of the questions and you may take a break at any time. You may stop your participation at any time.

You will not benefit directly from your participation in the study. Others, however, may benefit from future training that will be developed based on your responses and those of others who complete the survey.

Please click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser to access and complete the survey by August 25, 2014.

ISPEC Project - Need Assessment Survey

The Office of Human Research of George Washington University, at telephone number (202) 994-2715, can provide further information about your rights as a possible survey respondent. Further information regarding this study may be obtained by contacting Dr. Puchalski, PI, at (202) 994-6220.


Christina M. Puchalski, M.D.

Professor, Medicine and Health Sciences

Director, George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences



Professor Sue Wintz, MDiv, BCC reports from the California State University Institute of Palliative Care: “The course’s first class, which began in July, included chaplains, physicians, nurses, students, and community religious leaders. Right from the start there was created an exhilarating environment for learning and dialogue across professions. Participants have engaged in stimulating discussion and sharing of questions, experience and resources. They’ve identified both practical and creative interventions to integrate the essential element of spirituality when caring for persons struggling with mental health issues. As the faculty member, I’m excited, too!” 

Learn more and to register here.

Also SOLD OUT has been the Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certificate course now in its second year. Registration is open for next year’s classes that start January 26, April 15, July 13.

Learn more and to register here


Note: This Mini-Retreat may be audio and/or video recorded and available for later purchase. Availability will be announced in a future issue of the HealthCare Chaplaincy e-newsletter. Subscribe here.

Three experts will speak and lead exercises to help health care professionals learn practices  − whoever you are, whatever you believe  − to reduce the stress that comes from very demanding work:

Exploring the Spiritual Practice of Meditation
Miriam Healy
Zen Teacher

Exploring the Spiritual Practice of Keeping the Sabbath
Rabbi Amy E. Goodman
Assistant Director of Hospice Development for MJHS Foundation

Exploring the Spiritual Practice of Play & Humor
Nicholas Mosca, MDiv, Harvard Divinity School
2013 Winner of the Billings Preaching Prize Competition

8 am to Noon

Kimmel Center for University Life at NYU
60 Washington Square South
New York City, NY 10012

Fee $25

Get more information and to register here. 


Now is the time to establish a strong, clear voice for the inclusion of effective spiritual care as a standard of health care and for the profession of health care chaplaincy.

That’s why HealthCare Chaplaincy Network has launched Caring for the Human Spiritmagazine for all who recognize this importance and for those who are discovering it.

Download to read and to subscribe here.

We invite you who are professionals to submit articles on aspects of today’s care that you’d like to see communicated to a wide and influential audience. For deadline and word count, contact managing editor Bernie Rosner at brosner@healthcarechaplaincy.org

We invite the global organizations in the fields of chaplaincy, spiritual care, medicine, social work, palliative care and hospice to consider this magazine an extension of your mission. Together, collaborating on this publication, we can make the field of spiritual care stronger, wiser and demonstrably effective.


Leaders of the 6 U.S. Professional Healthcare Chaplaincy Organizations
 Hold Unprecedented Meeting to Advance the Integration of Spiritual Care within Healthcare

New York, NY (August 12, 2014) – “A welcomed beginning of a broadening conversation” was the theme of a recent meeting hosted by HealthCare Chaplaincy Network in New York City, which brought together leaders of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Association of Professional Chaplains, College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and NESHAMA: Association of Jewish Chaplains.

The six leaders affirmed their commitment to collaborate to expand the reach of professional chaplaincy and therefore serve more people in need of spiritual care.

Each remarked about the meeting and its implications.

Rev. Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network: “Individually each of our six organizations has its own strengths. Working collectively we can accomplish much more to contribute to quality healthcare in the U.S.”

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education executive director Trace Haythorn: “Our field has matured to a place where we can move from focusing solely on what’s happening within our individual organizations to a more global approach to advocacy on behalf of chaplaincy in general, to work to advance quality spiritual care wherever our members serve.”

Association of Professional Chaplains CEO Patricia F. Appelhans: “From the Common Standards for Professional Chaplaincy, which form the basis for board certification, to Standards of Practice, our chaplaincy organizations have enjoyed a long history of collaboration. We look forward to our continued work together to advance the profession through research, advocacy and other projects of mutual interest.”

George Hankins-Hull of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy: "As important as the discussion was the sincerity, and an overall feeling of collegiality that suggests to me that we might accomplish more working together through face to face relationships as we seek to advance the profession of clinical chaplaincy.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent CPSP, as together our organizations strive to secure the best possible professional future for those we train, certify and credential."

Mary T. O’Neill, treasurer of the Board of National Association of Catholic Chaplains: “NACC is committed to promoting spiritual care in collaboration with other  professional chaplaincy groups.  It was evident that all shared a strong commitment to this profession, a conviction about its importance in the care for the whole person, an investment in making this care known and available to all who need it, and a willingness to work together. 

Cecille Asekoff, executive vice president, NESHAMA: Association of Jewish Chaplains: “NAJC is committed to continued collaboration between all of the professional spiritual care organizations. The time spent together was productive both on an objective level of furthering the field of professional chaplaincy in a comprehensive and organic manner, as well as recognizing the diversity and uniqueness of each organization. Talking together on both formal and social levels will serve to strengthen professional pastoral/spiritual care and chaplaincy worldwide. We look forward to being part of the conversation.”

The six groups will meet next in fall 2014.