And with all of the people you saved by your love,
We’ll sing to the dawn at the end of our journey.
Father, into your hands I
commend my spirit.
heaviness set in as Jesus breathed his last. The time has
passed slowly and we are weary. You have stayed. Others found
the waiting intolerable. Jesus endured the pain and humility of
the Day. Deprived of sleep and food, hours merged and the
passage of time stretched from hours to an eternity. Redemption
of God’s creation demands nothing less.
company of the Father, the Son climbed Moriah. The thicket
yielded no ram and no angel withheld the blade. Isaac was let
loose and Abraham found his way down the hillside by a different
The Son, the
Father’s only Son remained, and was heard to say, “Father, into
your hands I commend my spirit.”
breathed his last.
last brings us our own terror.
over a decade ago now, a rainy afternoon that found me at home
in my last parish. The phone rang and I answered it on the
third ring. I recognized the voice on the line. It was Ann.
She had been crying. It took a moment for her to compose
herself, and when she had, she asked if I could come by. This
was something that couldn’t wait.
I picked up
my car keys and drove the short distance to Ann’s home. Her
children were at home, playing. The weather prevented them from
playing outdoors. The living room looked like a war zone. Ann
led me into the kitchen and we sat down at the kitchen table.
day she had visited her doctor, an oncologist. She had had
tests the previous week and she had been given the report . The
report was not good and the prognosis was no better. She was
diagnosed with an aggressive malignancy that would not be
responsive to surgery or treatment.
back tears. The future held its own terrors. She was concerned
about her husband and how he would manage during the illness and
after her death. She was concerned about her children and how
they would adjust to her absence. There was so much left to be
done and there was not sufficient time to do it.
angry and she felt guilty. Angry at God for denying her the
opportunity to fulfil what she had undertaken; guilty for
failing to complete what she had in good faith begun. But for
all of her anger and guilt she honoured God and wanted to see
this new stage in her life through to its end.
As I sat at
the table with her, I drew on my pastoral skills to the sick and
dying. I listened carefully to what she said and how she said
it. It didn’t take me long to realize that my presence was more
assuring than anything I might say. I didn’t say much. I only
children jumped from sofa to chair in the living room, as one
wounded sibling rushed for maternal comfort as others screeched
in glee, as Ann rose above her immediate self-preoccupation and
met the demanding needs of each child, I saw the unfolding of
God’s presence in the very midst of domestic chaos. Ann
distributed juice boxes and Rice Crispie Squares and healing
kisses to bumped heads and scraped knees.
returned to the kitchen she sat, and exhaled slowly, placing her
hand in mine. She looked through the archway and saw her
children sitting on the floor, sipping their juice boxes and
watching a favourite video.
back to the table and squeezed tears of sorrow from swollen
eyes, allowing them to stream down her cheeks.
remained cradled in mine for some time in a kitchen filled with
crayon drawings and fridge magnet names and Easter cards and
children’s laughter and our silence. And in that silence I
heard words attributed to Jesus at an earlier date and in a
distant place: “In your hands I commend my spirit.” The earlier
commendation I did not hear. This latter day commendation
brought Jesus’ Passion close by – closer by far than I may ever
have been on Golgotha.
And with all
of the people you saved by your love,
We’ll sing to
the dawn at the end of our journey.