The chapel at Eden Valley Hospice is small yet airy, and modern yet lit with candles and stained glass windows.

It’s a very peaceful, calming place to be, and it feels a million miles from Carlisle’s busy Durdar Road, rather than 100 yards.

It’s open for anyone, whether religious or not, to light a candle, pray, or just sit quietly.

Rev Pauline Steenbergen suits it well. She has a gentle manner and soft Scottish accent that almost seem to reflect the pleasant atmosphere of the chapel.

And she’s keen to point out its features. In one corner stands the “compassion tree”, decorated with hearts, each representing someone who has died there or member of staff’s own bereavement.

They are all slightly different in colour, pattern or texture, and sometimes contain a lock of hair from the person they commemorate - representing the uniqueness of each patient.

After five years Pauline is stepping down from her role as chaplain at the hospice. She clearly loves the place and says: “I’ll miss the staff, the patients and the one-to-one contact with them.”

But just as she believes God called her to become a minister, now she feels He wants her to move on.

“After five years it’s time to let go. I listened hard to God and I have the sense that I’m being called to something new.”.

Precisely what that is she isn’t sure yet. She doesn’t have a job to go to and is giving herself three months off to consider it. But she feels she may return to being a minister in a parish of her own.

For it’s an ambition she first discovered when she was 16.

Pauline is 48 now, and explains: “I found my faith when I was 15 and had the calling quite quickly afterwards.”

There were none of the barriers that there might have been in other churches. The Church of Scotland had been ordaining women since the year before Pauline was born.

Her faith might have been challenged when, soon after, her best friend’s mother died from a brain tumour.

But Pauline recalls: “I saw the incredible comfort that a minister and a good funeral and good bereavement support could provide.

“That was part of the thread that drew me into wanting to become that kind of minister, and offer that kind of care.”

Pauline studied English and philosophy at Aberdeen University and afterwards trained in theology in Edinburgh. She served first as a probationer at a church in South Queensferry, just west of the Scottish capital, and when fully qualified moved to her own parish in Broughty Ferry in Dundee.

“I was a parish minister, which had been my dream, and I absolutely loved it, having a congregation of all ages, leading them Sunday by Sunday, being part of their faith and life.”

After marrying she moved to another church in Peterhead, north of Aberdeen - and Scotland’s easternmost point. Her 15-year-old son Ben was born there.

Her jobs in Carlisle have included training lay people and volunteers for different roles within the church. And highlights of her career have included leading some large gatherings of thousands, and addressing the Scottish parliament, just after the Dalai Lama.

“I like those massive events,” she admits. “But I’m also very comfortable one to one, and that’s what I’ve probably enjoyed about the hospice the most.

“It was a natural step from parish ministry into hospice chaplainship,”

Yet looking after people who are close to death or know they are going to die isn’t a job that would suit.

She stresses that her role is not to evangelise, preach or encourage patients to come to a service in the chapel.

She will provide a prayer or a Bible reading if they request one, but the staff in the chaplaincy team are there to provide support and company to all patients, whatever their religion or lack of one.

“It’s very much needs-led,” Pauline explains. “We provide spiritual care for those who want compassionate listening and religious care for those who want the comfort of their faith.”

However she does point out: “Ritual can ease physical pain as well as emotional pain - the very act of praying, anointing or saying the rosary.

“There are all sorts of ways that signs, symbols, rituals, candles can ease distress. I’ve seen that happen many, many times.”

And inevitably something else she’s seen often is the fear, anxiety, anger, anguish and suffering of those facing death, and their loved ones.

There’s also sometimes shame and guilt. “There are a lot of feelings that come with a life-changing or life-limiting illness.”

Sometime they emerge In surprising ways. “There was a young man who felt a sudden pull back to God and was baptised into the Roman Catholic church. He held his rosary until he died.

“And there was an atheist who started saying the Lord’s Prayer.

“On my last working day there we enabled a patient and his partner to be married. He died the next day.

“My youngest patient was 12 weeks old and the oldest was 100.”

Is no-one ever angry with God, asking why cancer or motor neurone disease exist in the world, or what they’ve done to deserve them? Or why, if God loves us, He doesn’t intervene to stop an early death?

It’s not a topic Pauline seems keen to address.”That’s a question that human beings have grappled with since the beginning of time.

“I don’t see it as my role to give answers. If people ask I will give them my understanding of why there’s suffering, and why God allows that. But it’s not what people ask me.”

What do they ask? ”They may feel rage or hurt that life has not gone the way they hoped, and that they are leaving loved ones behind.

“They want someone with an unconditional acceptance of what they are feeling. My job is to accompany them and help them go through what they are going through.

“Answers are hard, but they’re not what people are looking for.

“I’ve seen a lot of fear and anxiety. But fear and anxiety can be relieved.”

Whatever role Pauline takes up next, she knows the experience at Eden Valley will never leave her. She’s creating a vacancy and says: “I would recommend the role to anybody who might be thinking about applying for it.

“I’ll never ever forget the difference that the multi-disciplinary team at the hospice make, day in, day out, to patients of all ages. It’s been an honour to work with them.

“I’ll continue to pray for them and think of them and remember them.”