I wrote the following reflections to put in our newsletter yesterday:
This year, my Lenten journey has been enriched by what has been going on in my family life. I want to share some of what I am learning with you. Lent is the season set aside to prepare for our celebration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. It is a time when we consider our sinfulness and need for the forgiveness that Christ offers. It is a time when we reflect on our own mortality: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
This year, it has been a season of watching my parents’ lives on this earth wind down. I am writing this the day after a swallow test confirmed that my mother is no longer able to swallow food or liquids. My mother has always been adamant that she did not want a feeding tube used to prolong her life. We have agreed to hospice, and now we wait. I made a trip up to see her on Sunday, March 22. She had been pretty out of it on Saturday, but antibiotics had eased her pneumonia and she was very alert the day I was there. Her face lit up when I walked into the room, and then she began to cry. We both knew we were saying good bye, and we both sought to comfort the other. She never spoke to me in words, but we communicated much that day. We cried, we hugged, we prayed. I told her that all we wanted for her was peace. Leaving her that day, knowing I would probably never communicate with her again in this life, was hard.
I am very much aware, though, that it could be much harder. As my family mourns, we mourn as people with hope. We await not her death, but her healing. We know that because of Easter, she will soon be set free of the body that has become such a burden to her. Throughout this Lenten season, we have been considering our brokenness in worship. My mother’s body is broken, but as she comforted me last Sunday with her hands and her eyes, I knew that her spirit was whole. That is the gift Christ gives us: healing in the midst of our brokenness. We will cry as we bid farewell to my mother. Yet even as we say good bye, we know great peace. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul talked about the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. In the midst of my sorrow, I know that peace. In the midst of my sorrow, I rejoice in the hope we have received through Christ’s resurrection. Christ is risen! Alleluia!