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A Word from Our Pastor 2017 July

Transitions. . .

At the present moment, two of our longtime and beloved members are under hospice care.

We’ve also had the recent passing of siblings and parents of our members. All of these people have lived long and meaningful lives, and so these are “natural” events, but even if they are expected, they are not easy. It is also at these moments, I believe, when we are able to learn the most about life, about love, faith and about God.

Not too long ago, I encouraged someone to tell her terminally ill brother that it was “all right” for him to go. Presently, he is not awake very much, and not able to respond with words, and is very weak. I am grateful that he is not experiencing a lot of pain. He has been slowly declining for about 6 months, and the cancer is eroding his quality of life. So I said to his sister, “Sometimes people linger because they do not want to disappoint their loved ones – they hang on because they don’t want to let you down. I know he said that he was at peace with dying, and may be ready for himself, but perhaps he is waiting for you to be ready.” I could tell this was very hard for her to hear, and perhaps even harder for her to think about saying to him. It was something I told my own mother at the end of her life. . . “You have done everything so well, you have taken care of everything. Everyone will be all right. You don’t have to worry about us. We will be sad, but we will be ok. It is all right for you to go.”

I also said that if she was not ready to say this to her brother, that was good, too. The right time might come along. She started to weep. What other response could there be? If they are not suffering deeply, are we ever truly ready to let go of someone we love?

Letting go can be easier if we have faith that our loved ones will live “on” – in some spiritual sense. The Bible doesn’t describe what will happen in very much detail, but it does say over and over again that we will live “eternally” in the kingdom of God; we will be “resurrected.” We will be remembered by those who knew us, some of our characteristics will live on genetically through our descendants. . . but the Bible is talking about something else, I think: our souls.

I believe that somehow our souls “go back” to God, to the source of our creation. We are reunited with God, and with everyone else who has returned to God. So, it is possible that on the “other side,” our souls will recognize the loved ones who have passed on before us. To me, whatever happens on the other side, is like completion, fulfillment, healing: we return to what we were created to be, one with God and one with each other. Perhaps you believe something different. “In green pastures and beside still waters. . .” the “home” of God – can we release our loved ones to this place where they will experience perfect unity, perfect love, when they are at the end of their physical life?

Of course, we will miss them, and the pain of that loss will never leave us. However, the love that we have for them, and they for us, will also never leave us. The Bible reminds us in the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) that love is stronger than death.

Therefore, I encourage all of you to meditate a bit on the love you feel for those you have lost. Go to a calm and quiet place where you will not be disturbed, and gather some mementos – photos or objects that remind you of the one you have lost. As you look deeply into the photo, or as you remember the person in your mind’s eye, try to FEEL the love that you have for them. Let that love fill your brain, your head, and travel throughout your body, so that you are filled with love. That love is your connection to the one you have lost and to God. God will fill your heart, and all of you, with love. Perhaps if you do this often and long enough, the pain will not be so great, because you have found a way to re-connect to your loved one and the Source of everything, and to the Source of your own life. I pray for you that this season of transitions will go well for you. . . .And ask you to say a prayer for our members and friends, and anyone you know who is saying goodbye to someone they love.

–Rev. Naomi