Saturday, March 31, 2007

A New Body

Someone I simply loved died last weekend of cancer.

I say I "simply" loved her because it was simple. I loved her the first moment I saw her come to church on her husband's arm. I had an immediate reaction in my heart, kind of a shy recognition of real beauty, the way you feel as a little girl when you see a woman who strikes awe in your heart because she's just so pretty, she is the most beautiful lady you have ever seen, and you want to be just like her when you grow up.

But this was more than prettiness.
It was purity of spirit clothed in kindness and bright, humorous presence-- the kind of loveliness that you just don't see very often.

(One of my colleagues has this kind of loveliness. Her initials are PP. I feel the same way when I see her)

This lovely woman died last week, and she was in agonizing pain for much of her final days. Her hospital room was full of people who wrung their hands with grief and helplessness as the medical team tried to find some combination of drugs that would give her some relief. We wanted so badly to help her.

Her sister said yesterday at her memorial service that her suffering assaulted our faith.
I shuddered at the words, so there must have been great truth in them for me.

Last week I was reminded -- we are were -- that all the love in the world, even surrounding you in the tiny boat of your dying bed, even pouring in as God's holy spirit -- cannot endure the sufferings of your body for you, and cannot make the journey of the soul for you. We struggle alone no matter how held we are in care; no matter how surrounded we are by compassion. God abides with us, God does not live our lives for us.

But yesterday at the memorial service, as people queued up for Communion, I understood something for the first time. By becoming the body of Christ (or the Beloved Community), we can make whole what is torn asunder by violence, pain, the natural limitations of the body, human sin and fear.
I looked at the long line of patient people standing in line to receive the bread and the cup (and many who were there who chose not to partake, but were no less part of the Body) and I thought, "Sweetheart, here's your new body. Here's your new body."

And now the tears finally come.

Guatemala Trip 2007 041


Blogger Ian said...

You know that gesture where you pat yourself over your heart because something lovely touches you? I'm doing that just now. Thank you for sharing with us this painful, but sublime truth.

Blogger Carol said...

Beautifully written thoughts, PB, I share a tear and a bit of the sorrow you feel.

Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

I do believe in the oneness of life energy and do delight in the experiences I have had when I've tapped into it.

I don't believe that there's any such thing as death. Those who have passed from one plane to another are still with me and always will be.

Blogger Cynthia said...

THAT'S what I call resurrection.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A dear one just died in my congregation. Thank you for your words of comfort. They eased my sorrow just a bit.

Blogger Shaktidas said...

I'm sorry for your loss, PB. That was a beautiful tribute.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...


Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, PB. I watched my mom die of cancer. We had several weeks with her on hospice care at my sister's. She rarely complained and she was well-medicated, but I wished to God/ess I could have taken the pain for her. I told her and she said she knew, but she didn't need it all taken away.

I held her hand as she died, the day before my daughter's first birthday. I miss her so much.

Thank you again. The spirit of God as it manifests in people like youse means that while I stumble, I don't fall.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Stephanie, thank you. xoxo PB


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