Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Last Funeral

During the past few days I've been thinking about the last funeral where I was the officiant, on a Saturday at about the middle of June.

A. was a gracious, lively, cultured woman who had struggled with cancer for the last several years. I visited her in her home and then at the nursing home where she spent the last couple of years of her life. When she was feeling well, she was a lively conversationalist, well-read, with thoughtful opinions on many of the events of the day. (Sometimes when I arrived, she was watching CNN.)

About a year ago, she decided to quit the treatments she was having for her cancer. They were taking too much out of her, so she and her son talked about it and decided she would not have that kind of suffering any more.

I remember going to visit her then, broaching the subject of what it meant for her to stop taking the treatments. I wanted to talk about the fact that she was going to die, to ask her if she was ready.

I have talked to people in the past who were eager to tell me that they were at peace. (I recently stopped in to see a woman whose first words to me were, "I'm ready.") I've talked to people who want to ask me what I think heaven, or eternal life, is like. Sometimes the conversation is easy.

Other times it is more difficult. Some people are shy, or private. It's more difficult for them to talk about things. But still, my calling is to tell them the truth, in the gentlest way possible. My calling is to help people grasp the life that God wants to give them.

It has occurred to me recently that this is not just true of people who are dying.

My calling is to love people and to tell them the truth. Sometimes this is the easiest and most joyous of tasks, and other times it is difficult. Often it is both at the same time. Sometimes, by the grace of God, I do it well. Other times, I know I have stumbled, and trust the Holy Spirit to use me anyway.

I trust the Holy Spirit to use me anyway.


Sally said...

thank you for this reflection Diane, sometimes the truth can be tough, but if we truly love we have to tell it. Powerful stuff.

Mary Beth said...

So well written, Diane. Pondering what this might mean in my non-minister life.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

i agree with MB - very well written, said, thought of... i think of these conversations too... and the yearning to be available for the Spirit to work through... thankfully in spite of bumbling on our end, it does!

Mrs. M said...

I like this a lot. Sometimes I think of Spiritual Direction as a ministry where I try to create space for others to tell their truth. For both of us, truth seems central.

Diane said...

oh, Mrs. M., I like this too. not just to tell the truth, but to help people to tell the truth as well, their own story...

江冠彭珮李佳宏陽筠 said...
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