Joan Newton O'Gorman

Spiritual Lessons from the Sample Cart at Costco

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What do you do when major life changes happen? After 35 years of pastoral ministry and community chaplaincy, in 2015 my husband and I bought a beat-up old rv camper, sold or gave away 70% of our possessions and took a long journey across the country. I needed work, so I went to work at Costco – I was a sample lady! I will tell two stories that people told me as they stood at my cart and sometimes had memories evoked by the food I was serving. Wherever we are in our lives we need to know how to be open to the stories of others; just to be present; listen to the heartache and the joys; as one of my favorite quotes reads “when was the last time you told your story?” – Native American medicine man.

Joan is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ tradition and has served congregations in Vermont for the past 30 years in both settled and interim ministries. She is a Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain with the University of Vermont Health Network Home Health and Hospice.