Remember to Breathe

May 29, 2009 § 2 Comments


I’ve attempted to post something here for several weeks. Haven’t been able to think of anything clever, catchy, or interesting.

I’m out of school now, with graduation tomorrow. I have to give a speech in the morning. My class elected me to speak on their behalf at the ceremony.

I turned in the “Thank You” that will be read on my behalf as I get pinned as a new nurse. So, here’s my “thank you”:

Rigpa would like to thank Pema Norbu Rinpoche, his inspiration for entering nursing school. He passed away during Rigpa’s final session of nursing studies, so he dedicates this accomplishment to Pema Norbu’s memory and legacy of compassion. He was a beloved friend, mentor, father figure, and spiritual advisor.

Short, and to the point. Is it too much? Friend, mentor, father figure, spiritual advisor ….. Coming across a bit too strong? I didn’t know him that long. Only a few years. Yet in that time he changed everything. No doubt he remains in our hearts.

So, a monk finishing nursing school? Yep, nursing school. You see, many ordained in the West still have to maintain some sort of employment to cover living expenses. I am very lucky to have a few sponsors that help me out sometimes. A woman from a center in Boulder has brought me groceries a few times. Another group of people in Aurora is actually sponsoring a retreat I am going on in June, in Arizona, at a center that is offering me the retreat at no expense. And a guy in the building I live in brings cat food for the felines I tend to. I feel very blessed for the presence of such people in my life. Yet there is still rent that must get paid each month. So I will return to work this fall, for a couple days each week.

The time I have been a nursing assistant, and now a nurse, has been absolutely incredible. I don’t view it as a “job,” even though perhaps you will argue with me. When I go in, I get to assist in alleving the pain and suffering of sentient beings that were once my mothers. They have taught me so much.

One gentleman I remember very well, him and his family. He was on his deathbed. I got to spend time with him, listening to his stories . . . running with the bulls in Spain, memories of his family. He wanted to eat Taco Bell, a burrito. His family also brought him chocolate at his request. I gave him his last bedbath before he passed. He was approaching death, and he knew it. Somehow he was coming to terms with it, as was his family. How can that be just a job? He taught me a powerful lesson in impermanence, and about caring for another in need. He allowed me the chance to purify some of my own negative karma from the past, as well as to build a positive connection for the future.

So, if I have to work, I might as well be a nurse. I try to see all patients as my Guru, offering me the chance to tend to him, and I am grateful for such opportunities.



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