The spirits that guide us

A spirit guide at LDHH

by Beth Brittain, Levine & Dickson Hospice House Chaplain

Amazing things happen almost daily at Levine & Dickson Hospice House.  As the chaplain, I see many of these happenings as having spiritual components.  Very recently, in fact, we have observed some significant interactions with the wildlife around our campus.  We have always encouraged the deer, birds, and other animals to join us on the grounds.  Lately, however, the deer are really connecting with our patients and staff in remarkable ways. 

A week or so ago, we had a Buddhist patient who died under our care.  As is customary in her faith, his wife had arranged several hours of time to pray after his death.  At some point during this time of prayer for her husband, she saw a deer come near the window in his room.  She began bowing and praying toward the deer.  After the deer stood watching (in its uniquely majestic way), it quietly left the area.  She saw this experience as very comforting and meaningful.  During our team meeting this week, one of our staff members told us that she had done some research to find the meaning of the deer in various religions.  For Buddhists, the deer is an important symbol of Buddha’s first teaching in the Deer Park, Sarnath.  Deer represent Buddha’s wondrous appearance and his peaceful presence that actually encouraged the animals to come and listen to his teachings.

Our most recent spiritual deer encounter came just last week.  A patient had been at the hospice house for quite some time.  Staff knew her well and sometimes struggled to figure out how to best meet her needs.  This patient had a difficult life and seemed to be having a difficult time dying as well.  Over the weekend prior to her death, however, she began to find, and even embrace, peace.  She seemed very comfortable when I saw her on Monday, but was very close to death.  On Tuesday, her family was at her bedside and she was even closer, but not quite ready to let go.  The family played the old hymn “ The Angel Band” repeatedly and she seemed to find some more comfort.  Throughout the day, though, she slipped further away. 

About that time, six deer came by her wing of the building.  One stopped as the others continued.  This deer, standing still, looked at her window for quite a long time.  Then it stomped its foot a couple of times and left.  But as the deer had been standing and looking in, our patient, who was struggling to find release, appeared to slightly open her eyes and smile ever so faintly.  And as the deer stomped its foot, she breathed her last.  It was after her family had noticed this amazing occurrence that one sister told us she had been praying for a sign that her sister had finally found peace.  She found her sign in the deer that provided peace for her beloved sister.

I don’t generally understand how God works.  I realize it is unusual for a minister to actually admit that in public.  But I have learned that I don’t need to understand; I just know God does His work–through song, prayer, people, and even through the spirit guides–in the wonder of  creation.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, religion, spiritual care

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5 Comments on “The spirits that guide us”

  1. Mary Langhorne Says:

    wonderful thoughts! so peaceful!

  2. Karen Goad Says:

    I must admit I don’t always understand God’s way either but the beauty of God (such as the presence of deer)continues to draw me to Hospice care.

  3. Dianne Says:

    Beautifully written.

    I have always felt that our animals were more in touch with God than people are. They seem to be able to communicate with us without having to say a word. For people, I guess that means prayer and listening with out hearts.

  4. Dianne Says:

    Beautifully written.

    I have always felt that our animals were more in touch with God than people are. They seem to be able to communicate with us without having to say a word. For people, I guess that means quiet prayer and listening with our hearts.

  5. […] everywhere.  No surprise that the hawk has adopted LDHH for a new home.  He (or she) joins the deer and other wildlife that has chosen to share their space with our patients in our peaceful […]

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