God, I have found, is never outdone in generosity. Always the gracious giver, he longs to surprise us breaking into our everyday ordinary to do the extraordinary. And still how easily these moments could have been missed by our failure to respond. Ever have a day where an inconvenient appeal on time and energy turns into a unexpected source of joy and grace? Where had the answer been no that the loss, in hindsight, would have been great? Oh how precious are the lessons that our Father has in store for us! All that is required of us is our “yes!”..and then the Spirit does all the rest.
Recently called to the bedside of a woman actively dying, I unexpectedly felt unprepared. Tying up last minute details, both professionally and personally, in preparation for our family move and my upcoming pilgrimage to Israel, time has been elusive. Each minute spent planing ahead so that my absence is not severely felt and everything runs seamlessly. Yet, here I was sprinting to squeeze in prayer time on the way to another communion call.
With a bit of creative parking and magnificat left behind I resigned myself that the Spirit had this in hand. I had brought the most important part, I was reminded, clutching the pyx and proceeding ahead. Upon entering her room, I noticed there was not an inch of space unused. For, she was not alone. Surrounded by her family, she was being held and loved in these remaining days. Taking my place at her feet in her chair, I invited her family to pray together. The sound of their voices in harmony provided such a beautiful resonance, and it was clear that I indeed was witnessing a gift.
Closing in prayer and requesting the Spirit to intercede, I prayed for her strength for the next steps in the journey till at last she would meet Jesus face to face. Knowing how hard it was to leave this loving family behind, she needed assurance. For, they too had a journey. Pouring forth an appeal for God’s grace, strength and peace to be felt among them in the coming days ahead, I said Amen. Glancing up, it was remarkable how her face had relaxed and her breathing eased. Softly, she whispered something to her son standing beside her. “Wow, that was beautiful wasn’t it mom?”, he said. “Yes.”, I thought, “the Spirit does beautiful work. ”
Having only brought one communion host, and surveying the room of expectant faces I suddenly was met with a joyful dilemma. “I only have one host…”, I said. “It doesn’t matter how small, we would all like to receive if possible” “Well, ok then.”, I said reminded of the loaves and fishes. Not even counting the members in the room, I stopped at 10 equal pieces. And wouldn’t you know, it was exactly enough with one piece remaining for “Mary”.
The family and I spoke for awhile about her life and how much her faith meant to her. A lifelong parishioner, she endeavored to bring each of them up in the faith. The children also added that they had all been baptized and married in the church. “Do you know what a blessing you are to her right now?”, I asked. “Do you know what a blessing she has been to each one of us?”, they responded. Truly, this brief encounter with this incredible family would have been missed if I hadn’t responded to the Spirit that day.
Have I ever considered praying with someone in need, or that is dying? If so, what has prompted my words, or guided my actions? If not, what has held me back from responding?