Wednesday, March 29, 2006
It will not be like the lives of my friends, my brothers, or my parents.
It will be different.
Before 11am and after about noon today, I lived a normal day. I went to worship, to lunch, to the gym, I attended class, sang Evensong, had dinner, came home and watched tv. But that 11:00 hour was something. And as I sit here tonight, writing this between commercials on tv, trying to think about it and not think about it at the same time, I feel so strongly that I have to sacralize this in some way. I cannot let a moment like that time pass without reflection, without further notice. I cannot go through the rest of my day like it was any other day.
If you told me 10 years ago, heck even five years ago, that by the time I was 25 I would hold the hand of no less than three people as they died, I would have thought you crazy and maybe a little morbid. But today, at about 11:20am, as those of us sitting vigil were in the midst of praying the 23rd psalm, a man breathed his last and surrended his spirit back unto God who gave it.
CPE had its moments like this, but this time it was different. This time I knew and was close to the family, through my time at St. Luke's. This time, the pain hit me harder; the sorrow of the family struck a chord closer to my heart and I shared in their grieving and their thankfulness for his life in a deeper way. For that, in some way, somehow, I am grateful.
Very early on in my journey towards seminary and eventually ordination, during or maybe before even the aspirancy phase, I met with the rector of my home church, St. Hilary's. And in that very candid conversation we had, Bob mentioned compensation. I'll never, ever forget what he said.
"It is true. You will not be paid as highly as you would be in other careers. But, you'll be paid in other ways. The first time to hold someone in your arms as they cross over the barrier between life and death, the first time you hand someone to the Lord and then let go, you'll know how you are being paid."
Bob, thank you for those words. They are uber-true.
It is true, and most days I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Amen, and amen.
I too experienced for the first time the passage of someone to the next life. On July 17th of last year I held my hand on my Father's chest as he breathed his last. My Mother stood on the opposite of his bed as we prayed. His passing left a great void yet I did not, could not, cry for him. Oh sure, I cried later since I miss him. But at that moment, the exact moment he passed, I felt the presence of God in the room and knew none of us was alone in this. Angry, yes I confess I was angry. My father suffered from Alzheimer's. I prayed Why? Why suffer? I questioned my faith. How could He do this, or let this happen? Now almost a year later I know he did not cause this nor let it happen. It happened because this is just the way it is. God was there to help us through it. Help he did. Without a firmer return to faith and love we would have never survived.
By 6:27 PM, at