In the waning days of struggling with illness and preparing for the inevitable, a chaplain can serve as a guide to achieving spiritual comfort and healing. Readers are offered a glimpse into chaplaincy through one long listening, Chenxing Han’s poetic memoir relaying her wonderings and reflections as a student at a Taiwanese Buddhist monastery, as a novice chaplain in a Northern California hospital, and as a grieving friend, contending with profound loss. Han offers a thoughtful meditation on grief, despondency, acceptance, and healing as she shares her years-long journey toward finding the path of rightful service.

Han writes empathically, with quiet and raw emotion, as she offers a window into the lives of the patients and families she encountered as a chaplain. Stories of trauma from displacement, despair, and isolation among immigrants are heartbreaking. Han relays her family’s story, sharing her own vulnerabilities. At times, the patient vignettes feel voyeuristic to my Asian American sensibilities. Han had unique cultural and linguistic access to the people she served due to her positionality as a Chinese American Buddhist. Those who shared her background welcomed her into their final moments with their loved ones. one long listening may be cathartic or restorative for those seeking to understand how others confront the certainty of death.

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