Part of a pastor's life is to be part of the most intimate moments of life; birth, transitions, graduations, marriages, baptisms, and death. There were two deaths in the congregation I serve this day. One, while having been ill, was sudden and unexpected. The other had been in hospice just two weeks.
There is an ancient Native American saying that goes "death always comes out of season." My twenty eight years of ministry has proved that statement to be true. Whether one is waiting and walking that "valley of the shadow of death" or whether something unexpected occurs, death is always "out of season."
Now I will be the first to say there are worse things in life than death. Death is often a blessing after a long drawn out illness. Death can be just a semi-colon in terms of a life well lived and now a person transitions into a new life.
And yet, death is always unexpected and brings grief even in the midst of a thankfulness for a life well lived and love shared. Today, I was privileged to be at bedside when that final breath and small sigh was taken. For that person, there is no more terrible pain, but for those who remain, the path to life without someone they love dearly has begun.
In the days to come, plans will be made to celebrate the lives of those who have loved and made a difference. Memories will be shared, tears shed, prayers said. My "job" if you will, is not to make things better, but to give voice to unique and unrepeatable spirits, to be the presence of the Divine in this valley of the shadow of death.
I am honored to be and do those things. But mostly, I am grateful to be called to this ministry. And I am privileged to be
Graced to serve,