American Civic Life

How a Hospital Chaplain Navigates Grief — with Poetry, Silence and Zen

April 19, 2022

Waiting for the shuttle to St. Elizabeth's, I noticed three stacked rocks in the center of each table, reminding me of Buddha statues. Since then, whenever they fall apart or are missing a rock, I rearrange them back to Buddhas. It feels like a meditative exercise before or after suffering encountered in the hospital, these rocks as guardians. Photo courtesy

Waiting for the shuttle to St. Elizabeth’s, I noticed three stacked rocks in the center of each table, reminding me of Buddha statues. Since then, whenever they fall apart or are missing a rock, I rearrange them back to Buddhas. It feels like a meditative exercise before or after suffering encountered in the hospital, these rocks as guardians. Photo courtesy

Rebecca Doverspike

Rebecca Doverspike

Rebecca Doverspike works as an Interfaith Chaplain at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston where she draws from Zen Buddhist practice. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Master’s in Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. Her poetry chapbook, “Every Present Thing a Ghost,” was published in 2019 by Slapering Hol Press. More of her poetry can be found in Ruminate, Leveler, Valley Voices, Midwest Review, 5×5 Literary Magazine, Peripheries, and elsewhere.

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