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Tucked into the Promise of the Resurrection

16October2012

This past week was a week I lived straddling the realms of life and death. It was a holy week. All weeks are holy, of course, but when one is tending to the dying life simply seems more holy than your average run-of-the-mill ordinary week. On Monday I went to pray for and commend to Christ a man I had never met before. He was the grandfather of Andrew, our dear friend and organist. Within a few hours Charles had passed forward, as my Dean always says when someone dies. It is quite a privilege to be with a family in those final hours. They are hours that one never forgets as they are soaked with deep emotion: sorrow, sadness, grief, hope and relief as well. The stories we are honored to hear in those times are precious and often funny as things the person said and did bubble up through memories from their loved ones. Laughter often breaks through the pain and is a welcome relief to the dying process, ushering the loved one forward to their resurrection time. (My friend Pamela used this phrase with me this morning and I think it is exactly right. We live until we reach our resurrection time and then Christ calls us home. Only He knows that exact moment when we will give back to the One who breathed life into us, our very last breath. Resurrection Time.)

Later in the week our beloved sister Stella that I have written about on CCD was at hospice but perking up considerably. We all thought she would have at least a month to visit with, to talk to and to be surrounded by those she loved. I spoke to her on the telephone on Thursday and we planned to meet on Saturday as I had a wedding reception to attend in the city where the hospice center is located. We shared “I love you’s” and hung up thinking we would have another conversation in two days.

The next night was filled with joy and laughter as two young people were surrounded by their friends and family rehearsing for their wedding the next day. Their lives are coming into full bloom. . . they have their entire future together to look forward to! They were so happy and so alive, their laughter filled the air even as the evening ushered in a cool breeze in the outdoor nuptial setting.

On Saturday, very early in the morning my phone rang and it was Stella’s husband. Bad news, he said. Stella took a turn overnight. She was nearing her resurrection time. I quickly showered and drove the half an hour to her bedside where I stayed with the family for a few hours. That space between life and death is a holy space. We prayed, we blessed, we cried, we loved. Soon I had to go back to where new life was charging forward full speed. I had to be present to the young couple who were vowing to spend their lives together. On one side of me was a couple who were married for forty years, coming closer and closer to the “until death parts us” side of existence. On the other side of me were two sweethearts who were promising to love, honor and cherish. I was tucked into the midst of vibrant life and the promise of the resurrection. I have to admit that it was not an easy place to be. . . I felt almost manic. . . I felt torn, wanting to be in both places.

When I left the wedding site (it was absolutely beautiful by the way!) I went back to the bedside of our dear Stella. Again thrust into the quiet other than her unsteady breathing, again waiting with her for her resurrection time. Again tucked into a privileged and holy moment, me fully alive, my dear friend making her way toward Christ as she fully surrendered to his love and peace.

I want to say thank you to all four families who allowed me to be present with them in these holy moments. It is an honor. To the bride and groom, thank you. To the newly resurrected, I know you are fine now, no more suffering or pain or weeping or sadness for you; thank you for letting me sit with you in the tangible, palpable, reality of the promise of the resurrection. Amen.

ACL@CCD

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen Stephens permalink
    17October2012 20:40

    I’m so thankful for you – for your dedication to your congregation, for your compassion to anyone who needs you, for your outlook on life and, well, death. I know these families were as thankful to have you there during their time of need as I have been to have you there during mine.

    • 30October2012 10:23

      It is my honor and privilege. And I don’t say that tongue in cheek at all! It truly is a joy and gift. Thanks for saying that Jen!

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