July 2, 2008
'Foretaste of the feast to come'
When I left the office June 12 I thought I'd be back in on the 16th—not the 26th. But my mother had a very important journey to take—and I needed to accompany her. I've written about her and her decline in previous blogs. On Father's Day she began a sudden decline. My siblings and I gathered at her bedside for what became her final days on this earth. Just as we had done (together with Mom that time) for our father seven years ago, we once again served as midwives for a final journey.
Those days were pretty amazing. Through Mom, we three gained a glimpse of heaven, truly a "foretaste of the feast to come." She saw long-dead siblings wave to her, saw Jesus' face, saw a bright white light, saw things she repeatedly called "beautiful" and "wonderful." She clearly was experiencing something pretty incredible.
Mom had chosen her funeral texts and hymns, and I find myself drawn to those now as I consider them to really be her final words to those of us who loved her so dearly and who remain on this earth.
"Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving to God the creator triumphantly raise, who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us, who still guides us on to the end of our days. God's banners are o'er us, His light goes before us, a pillar of fire shining forth in the night, till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished, as forward we travel from light into light.
"His law he enforces, the stars in their courses and sun in its orbit obediently shine; the hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains, the deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine. We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing; with glad adoration a song let us raise till all things now living unite in thanksgiving: 'To God in the highest, hosanna and praise!'" (from her final hymn, LBW 557).
Thank you, dear Jesus, that you have now received Mom into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.