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.