Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Keeping Vigil

I just returned from the home of one of my parishioners who is dying.

And the family is keeping vigil.

As I walked toward the condo I passed a beautiful pale yellow butterfly. It seemed like a sign from God. This is a holy place.

And it is. Those times and places of waiting for a person to pass over.
To be with God.

The home is not dark but light and painted a light green. The wife sits on the couch next to her grandson's wife. Another grandson sits nearby reading the notebook from hospice. A great granddaughter plays outside with her grandpa.

Monique - a young woman who works for hospice sits beside the bed.
And he lays in the hospital bed in the middle of the living room - peacefully sleeping. He is no longer talking - just resting. He has a morphine drip and we believe that he is not in pain. He is just waiting to literally pass away.

We sit and talk about our own experiences of keeping vigil - as Monique talks about her father's dying and I share about my mother. We encourage
his wife to sleep - I say "how about a power nap?" She is afraid that she is going to miss something. But she is tired and resigned and sad and ready. She is waiting. Keeping vigil.

I have been with many families at this time and always there is a unique peace about it. We are no longer talking about healing and operations and medication. Just waiting and wondering when.

But being together as a family. That is what is so important and wonderful about all of this.

I am the pastor who comes and stays for a while and listens and prays. Sometimes I say or read scripture. When I pray - thanking God for the peace of this time and the blessing of our faith - there are tears.
It is hard and it is holy.

It is a glorious autumn day and as I drive back to church I marvel at the beauty of the trees. And see blessing in all of it - the butterfly, the people of hospice, the caring family, and the gift of faith.

And the peace that passes understanding.

End with a quote from John 14

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

how glorious the trees look -

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