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Treasured Moments

He is unresponsive. Imminently dying, they say. He has already been visited by other chaplains over the course of his stay, the priest has been called for Anointing of the Sick. His grown children gather around his bed and we hold hands… I lead a prayer for peaceful transitions, for healing, for comfort. The family weeps openly. I offer to sing Amazing Grace, they nod their heads, blow their noses. I sing. Dad opens his eyes and locks his gaze with mine. When I finish singing a second verse, he smiles. “That was nice! Thank you!” He exclaims. His family is surprised. He hasn’t been speaking for a while now. I pull out a Jesus card, cut it, fold it. I hand it to Dad, who smiles broadly and exclaims “Beautiful!” It is art. It is music. It is presence. It is prayer. It is a (last) moment this family will treasure forever.

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The Loss of the Future

Cards in Action: Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. It was a Hindu prayer for peace that I read to this family, as they said their goodbyes to little Siddhartha. He was born still at 33 weeks. He was their first child. Dad’s parents were there, Mom’s sister was there, tearfully supporting. My interfaith book has prayers for fetal demise, but they are decidedly Christian, and not appropriate today. It is always difficult to lose a child. An infant, especially. It is a different kind of loss, one never expects to bury the dreams the future holds, leaving behind the only-just forming imaginings of what this family would grow to be. I brought her a bright blue and green patterned quilt from our office cupboard, wrapped Baby in it. Had Mom hold him in it. I took an angel from my bag and asked them to spell their son’s name. In the white space on the paper angel, I wrote it out. Then I held the angel between my palms. I stood, infusing this angel with silent prayer, before folding it into existence. Once folded, I handed it to Dad. I asked about temple, and if they could request a “puja” for healing. Just using their word for ritual meant something. I hugged Mom. I told her it is hard to start off motherhood as a mother to an angel, and also that she would become stronger for this experience. I told her to take her time to mourn this child. That her body would heal faster than her heart.

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Inauguration Day

Cards in Action: I took my youngest to our local burger joint for lunch today. The mood was somber. A couple old ladies joked with the owner, asking him if he “had signed the register yet”. The family is Muslim, with no outward identifiers as such. This I had learned. We have been eating there for 20 years. Today I learned they are originally from Palestine. (I asked). I asked to borrow a pair of scissors and cut and folded my Healing Hands card. The owner thanked me quietly, and showed me where he had placed it in his tiny kitchen. A small gesture, on a day like this, for sure. And one that touched a heart in solidarity.

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The AltarNative Angel

Faith Specific Pop-Up Prayer Cards, AltarNative Angels, and Secular cards for Wellbeing are here!

Watch: How to Fold Your AltarNative Angel

image In the midst of the most intense and transitional moments of our lives, the smallest gesture of kindness and caring can make the biggest impact. As chaplains and healers, we know the importance of our presence, our silence, our listening, our touch. We know that holding sacred space while enabling and encouraging others to connect to the Divine is an integral part of our work. For many, prayer is helpful. For those who believe in something, a tangible representation of faith and divine connection is a priceless gift. AltarNative Angels represent love, hope, faith, and protection.

According to a 2011 poll done by CBS News, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans believe in angels. Now, moving beyond the standard prayer card, your organization can offer personalized AltarNative Angels. These special little angels are whimsical and colorful, and include blank space to write a person’s name, prayer, or intention on the back (which becomes the space inside the skirt, once folded).  May AltarNative Angels serve to remind each and every one of us that by nature of our existence, we are connected with all that is Holy, Sacred, and Divine, no matter what our faith.