I have been walking through the valley with Sara for months now...
or perhaps, I should say that I have been having the privilege of
accompanying her on this final journey which we will all make at
some time. And it is indeed a privilege, as together we walk toward a
sunrise which only she will see, a new dawn for which I will have to
wait a while longer. Together we talk and laugh and share silences
in which the only agenda is to welcome the Holy Presence. Together
we move slowly, slowly, inexorably slowly toward that final inevitable
farewell...though we both hope and trust that it will be "till we meet
again" rather than "goodbye".
Lest you think this is all heaviness, this journey we are making
together, I hasten to assure you that there has been and continues
to be lots of laughter as we share our left-wing political views and
dissect together the various candidates on the political stage. And I
confess to more than a little sacrilegious language salting our
conversations (usually coming from me, I'm afraid, though Sara
occasionally adds her share.) We talk music, too, a love we deeply
share, and I listen to her expressed grief at no longer being able to
play her beloved piano, or the organ at our church, at which she had
presided regally and imperiously for oh, so many years.
During these long- for her, tediously long and difficult- months, we
have become friends, as well as pastor and parishioner, and I
suspect- no, I know- that these visits mean as much to me as they
do to her. That's the beauty and wonder and mystery of it all, isn't it,
this task and calling we name "ministry". Even as we minister, we
are ministered to, in ways most lovely and healing, by dear people
who have no idea of their ministry to us...of the incredible gift they
give to us by inviting us, not only into their homes, but into their
lives and hearts.
Today, at worship's end, I announced that I would be taking Holy
Communion to Sara, and invited anyone who wished to come to
accompany me, to create for Sara a small taste of community to
go along with the taste of bread and wine. Seven saints joined me
in the sitting room at Sara's small home...along with her daughter,
five dogs, and one of the six cats brave enough to emerge from
hiding. Together we shared in confession and forgiveness...
together we shared in the Eucharistic Prayer and the Lord's
Prayer...together we shared the loaf broken at the altar a short
time earlier and handed from one person to another as we
communed each other..."The body of Christ given for you." And
now we were adding dear Sara to that communion of saints in
which we all share.
My joy and privilege was to preside, to speak the age-old words
and pronounce the blessing. Holiness was present...filling the
room and those gathered in that place. My gift was the peace on
Sara's face...and the gratitude she expressed over and over to
those who had taken time to be community with her. Thank
you, Sara, for reminding us all how much we need each other...
reminding us what it means to be "church". I'll see you on