A life dedicated to service...

Week 46: “Five Invitations”

I recently spent two intens(e)ive days of training in Mindful Caregiving at San Francisco Zen Hospice Project. Co-founded many years ago by Frank Ostaseski, it provides “the best possible care for those at end of life. We believe it starts with being open to the idea of discussing death. Daring to look at it, and bringing your own light to it.”

It’s been 11 years since I trained with Frank and the teachers at Metta Institute. Since then, various aspects of end-of-life care have become my life-work: as palliative care volunteer, hospice spiritual care practitioner and, more recently, on-call to anyone seeking support as death comes knocking. I owe the little I “know” about this sacred work to Frank et al and, most of all, the people who invited me to be at their bedside.

Frank’s new book is long overdue — or maybe just in time as I probably wasn’t ready for it a decade ago. The Five Invitations shows how to enter into an intimate and authentic relationship with ourselves and those approaching death.

“The five invitations,” he explains, “are my attempt to honor the lessons I have learned sitting bedside with so many dying patients. They are five mutually supportive principles, permeated with love. They have served me as reliable guides for coping with death. And, as it turns out, they are equally relevant guides to living a life of integrity. They can be applied just as aptly to people dealing with all sorts transitions and crises — from a move to a new city, to the forming and releasing of an intimate relationship, to getting used to living without your children at home” (p. 13).

They are * —

1. Don’t wait.
2. Welcome everything, push away nothing.
3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
4. Find a place of rest in the middle of things.
5. Cultivate don’t-know mind.


* You can access an excerpt at http://fiveinvitations.com/book-excerpt/. To order your copy, kindly ask your local bookseller.

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.
  1. Anne Reply

    Perfect timing. I am firmly in the category of getting used to living without my children at home, and I just heard my step-mother is dying.
    Excellent 5 invitations. Having seen some youtube videos with Frank O, he does wonderful work. Thank you Peter for opening this to me.

  2. Kate Reply

    Thank you, Peter! This message comes at a great time, end of one year, about to go into a new one. There is one person I am “working on” forgiving. It is a fierce practice.

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