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"Thresholds" by Rev. Larry Greer, HSM Chaplain

The summer is coming to an end. The gardens harvest is in or is coming in. As I write this the brilliant full moon lights the night sky. The wood pile is stacked with precision for the winter’s warmth. Kids have returned to school. We are entering into the season of less light, of deep winter—a time to acknowledge a long winter ahead; in essence, crossing the threshold of the seasons. A threshold can also be a move to a new way of seeing or the starting point of a new beginning, a place which something begins or changes. As we move from this physical life to death we are passing over the threshold of life. How does one delineate a boundary between the two? How does one cross the threshold?

HSM is committed to be a leader in end-of-life education, a companion to walk across that threshold with dignity and compassion. This year we are happy to welcome Dr. Ira Byock as our speaker for the 4th Annual Thresholds Conference on November 7, 2013 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in downtown Portland.

Dr. Byock is the former Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire and Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He is one of the foremost Palliative care physicians in the country. Dr. Byock argues that how we die represents a national crisis today.

In his newest book, The Best Care Possible, Dr. Byock explains that to ensure the best care possible for those we love—and eventually ourselves-- we must not only remake our healthcare system, we must move past our cultural aversion to talking about death and acknowledge the fact of mortality once and for all.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her monumental work, On Death and Dying, says, “It would be helpful if more people would talk about death and dying as an intrinsic part of life just as they do not hesitate to mention when someone is having a new baby.” Conversations and education about the whole (physical, emotional and spiritual) process of death should take place long before we are sitting at the bedside of our loved one wondering if we are adequate.

• In the morning, Dr. Byock will describe what palliative care really is. Dr. Byock captures the fundamental human impulse to care lovingly for one another at the most sacred and privileged moments of our lives…now and through the end of life.”—David Lichter, D.Min., Executive Director, National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

• In the afternoon, Dr. Byock will pull from his book, The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. Four simple phrases -- "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you" -- carry enormous power. In many ways, they contain the most powerful words in our language. These four phrases provide us with a clear path to emotional wellness; they guide us through the thickets of interpersonal difficulties to a conscious way of living that is full of integrity and grace. In The Four Things That Matter Most, Dr. Byock teaches us how to practice these life-affirming words in our day-to-day lives. Too often we assume that the people we love really know we love them. Dr. Byock reveals the value of stating the obvious and provides insights into how we burden ourselves by hanging on to old grudges unconsciously and unnecessarily. He shows us how to avoid living with those awkward silences and uncomfortable issues that distance us from the people we love and erode our sense of well-being and joy. His insights and stories help us to forgive, appreciate, love, and celebrate one another more fully.

• Priscilla Dreyman will lead us through an experiential creative response and conversation. Priscilla is the Program Director of SPIRAL Arts at The Opportunity Alliance, as well as an ordained United Methodist Church minister. She passionately believes that creative expression opens us to new experiences of healing, self-discovery, inner peace, hope, and joy, no matter our age or stage in life.

• We will welcome musical offerings by Jennifer Comeau, Michelle Currie, Different Drummers and more.

Hope that you can join us on November 7th for a day of deep conversation, art and music. Hallelujah for crossing thresholds and uttering gratitude for passages.



October 17, 2013 - Gael Jackson
Always interested in what you have to say. Your perspective is pure and personal and universal all at the same time. So blessed to know you and call you a colleague and friend. Thank you!

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