CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
In the Green Room

UCLA Chaplain Lori Koutouratsas

I’m a Classically Trained Cellist, But I Also Play in Rock Bands

ITGR Lori Koutouratsas - photo by Jake Fabricius copy

Rev. Lori Koutouratsas is a palliative-care chaplain at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Before joining a Zócalo/UCLA panel discussion on end-of-life care—“Does Medicine Know How to Approach Death?”—she talked in the Zócalo green room about growing up as a tomboy, “laser-ing” in conversation, and finding faith as an adult.

Q:
You’ve spent most of your life in Southern California. If you had to live somewhere else in America, where would you go?

A:
Probably Northern California. But outside of the state, I don’t know how well I’d do in the snow, but maybe Colorado?

Q:
An astronomer recently found evidence of a ninth planet in our solar system. If it’s confirmed, what would you want this planet’s name to be?

A:
The first word that comes to mind is “flourishing”—which is an action, so I need to make it a noun. “Flourish.”

Q:
What new language would you like to learn?

A:
Spanish. It’s very much needed.

Q:
Would you rather be painted or sculpted by an artist?

A:
Painted. It’s easier to put a painting somewhere. Plus, I’m not sure why, but I automatically assumed I’d have to be naked if someone sculpted me. That’s not true, right?

Q:
You spend so much time taking care of others. What are your tricks for taking care of yourself?

A:
I have a membership to a spa. And I play the cello. I’m classically trained, but I also play in rock bands.

Q:
What has been one of your greatest challenges?

A:
In conversation, “laser-ing”—getting to the point in a succinct way.

Q:
Have you had your faith from an early age, or did you have to find it?

A:
I found it. It was probably there and I didn’t know it. I got baptized when I was 28, and I just got ordained a couple of years ago.

Q:
What’s a misconception that people have of chaplains or other religious figures in secular institutions?

A:
There are many. One is that I’m going to impose something, or try to change somebody. Another is that what I do is all about religion. But as a spiritual care provider, I don’t define what I do as religious. It’s about connecting with people. I help them adapt, make meaning. That may or may not include religion. But probably only 10 to 20 percent of chaplains think like this.

Q:
Did you have a favorite toy as a child?

A:
I had a little clown doll, but my mom threw it away! Then I got a train set. I was a tomboy.

Q:
What three words would your friends use to describe you?

A:
Confident. Passionate. Wise.

*Photo by Jake Fabricius.