On this Holy Saturday, as we sit by the graves that are multiplying faster than we know what to do, there are angels bearing up our loved ones and front line workers in hospital rooms, ER’s, by gurneys, in ambulances, on lonely corridors, in hidden suffering places…
Caught in that dreaded flight between the the tomb and Resurrection joy, we all linger there together with the news of the day.
Who will live? Who will die? Will it be one of my beloveds today? Will it be me?
As we the living are suspended between life and death, perhaps it is the fear of death, our grief that is the hardest to bear.
As COVID 19 changes all of our lives, there are bright voices emerging from the wreckage. Many are those on the front lines.
Lynne, a writing mentor and chaplain, wrote these words for such a time as this.
I guess it’s up to the angels now, their gossamer wings, glimmering and strong, wide and soft enough to cradle souls ready to go. Family members, hospice chaplains no longer permitted to hold their hands, whisper in their ears, “you did well, you can go. I forgive you. I will always love you.” Just heavenly messengers carrying the load once shared.
I guess it’s up to the angels now to teach the dying how to breathe from this world to the next, how to let go of what binds them to this earth, how not to be afraid, give them the strength they need to wrestle free from these bodies loaned to us, surround them with the peace we all should be allowed when we leave.
I guess it’s up to the angels now to touch fevered brows, wipe away tears, moisten tiny sponges and hold them to parched lips, to read sacred words, pray the prayers, sing the songs.
I guess it’s up to the angels now and so it shall be. And maybe it was always up to them. Maybe they were always there; we just didn’t see them or count on them or pray to them like we do now. Maybe they are doing what they have always done, whispering, cradling, touching, singing. Maybe nothing has changed in their world at all even as everything has changed in ours. And maybe, though we stand empty-handed behind doors and windows and phone screens, we somehow open ourselves to what we have not completely opened ourselves to before, to faith and hope, to let go of what we are now unable to do, to believe and surrender.
Perhaps it isn’t the dying who need so much after all. Maybe they’re just fine in their last hours, already looking ahead, already shed themselves of earthly attachments, exits already begun.
Maybe it’s those of us left behind in the greatest need, those of us without the proper goodbye for which we all so desperately cling. Maybe we’re the ones who most require the help, must look to something or someone beyond ourselves.
Maybe we are ultimately the ones requiring grace, the ones in need of divine assistance, the ones who struggle most as we find ourselves having to leave it all up to the angels now. (used with permission, Lynne Hinton, April 1, 2020)
Peace be with you all in this liminal, in between and betwixt time.
As another one of my chaplain colleague friends wrote:
I know courage isn’t lack of fear but acting with compassion even in the midst of fear…
May it be so.