Spiritual Lessons from the Sample Cart at Costco

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 Newton O’Gorman 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. Joan feels that her spiritual journey really began when she was a member of the West Paris, Maine UU Fellowship in the mid-1970’s.   Before entering ministry, Joan put herself through Hunter College by driving a taxi in New York City, taught language arts in a small school in rural Maine, and served as Director of MAPS, Maine Adoption Placement Service.   Joan is married to Gary who is also a United Church of Christ pastor. They have four children ~ two live in Vermont and two live in California which makes life interesting.  One grandchild lives in Vermont and one in California which makes it even more interesting.  Joan enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping, reading and cooking.