Almost six years ago – just a few months after I became the pastor of Calvary Baptist in Mount Airy – I received an unexpected phone call from a woman who had grown up in the church. Her mother, she explained – who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was approaching the end of her life – was being cared for in the long-term care unit of the local hospital. And even though her mother was essentially unresponsive, this woman wanted me to come and visit so that I wouldn’t be placed in the awkward position of performing a funeral for someone I had never met.
Although this was a first for me, I was deeply grateful for that invitation. Too often, I’ve known the challenge of celebrating God’s goodness as it was expressed in the life of someone with whom I’m unfamiliar. And so, this opportunity to develop at least the tiniest beginning of a relationship was a real gift.
As I said, that was almost six years ago. And today – many visits, and many prayers, and a much more meaningful relationship later – we are laying that beloved mother to rest.
I still don’t know this woman as well as I wish I could. In all the visits we’ve shared, she has never been able to share a word. She has not even been able to share a gesture in response to the things I’ve said. And yet, there have been moments when I have felt like I’ve seen the “light of awareness” in her eyes. And better still, I’ve had the opportunity to see the faithful care of a loving daughter – whose life will, in one sense, be emptier after today – but who will also, I pray, have the peace of knowing that she has done everything in her power to demonstrate her love, and who has kept her mother connected to the church family that she served so faithfully in the years before my arrival.
Thank you, Loving Lord, for the meetings and partings that fill our lives. And in this parting, my the family of my friend find themselves surrounded by your love.