Cross-posted at our church's Lenten Blog
In my first call, I used to say that I sometimes got to know people only after they died.
This reflected two realities: that some of the folks I visited in nursing homes were not able to share as fully with me as their families did, later on, and that even for those I knew well, new information would often come out as we sat around and shared memories after a death.
At a time of grieving, I often heard wonderful stories that opened up parts of a life that I had never known about. I learned about how an old woman became ill as a young girl, contracting the flu in the epidemic of 1918. I learned about how a man secretly helped many members of his community when they were in financial straits. I saw some secret devotional poetry written by a woman who had never married. I heard stories about grandparents trekking across the prairie to start a farm where there should only be ranches. I heard stories of failure and stories of success, and stories of faithfulness in times of trouble.
I remember giving communion to an ancient woman once. I would be the last time I visited her. We knew she was dying. Her family was gathered. We prayed, read scripture, reflected on her life, and especially the hardships of the great depression.
At the close of the service, I pronounced the benediction, "The Lord Bless you and Keep you, The Lord's face shine on you with grace and mercy, the Lord look upon you with favor, and give you peace."
The old woman opened her eyes, and with a sparkle, said, clearly, "He did!"
He did! The Lord did bless me and keep me, the Lord's face shone on me....
The Lord is my resurrection and has been my life, all of my days. He has looked upon me with favor, even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Such clarity she had. May we all have such moments