So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
~ John 19:30
This morning I learned that a woman I have been visiting for the last few months died quietly with her family surrounding her. She was someone who was simply a beautiful soul, both inside and out.
We knew this hour would come, and even yesterday while we visited, we realized that death was no longer something that we talked about. She was dying. Maybe it was the way she hugged me, told me that she loved me, while a tear rolled down her face, and crosses my cheek, that made us both realize that this was our last time to visit.
I wished her "Shabbat Shalom," as I left.
I remember a few months back, when I entered her home, one of her family friends announced that the "Christian Chaplain," had entered their Jewish home. I touched the mezuzah on the doorpost, and gave thanks for the hospitality as I entered.
As I have shared before, one of the most difficult things about my job is knowing that every new person I meet that is coming on hospice is terminally ill, and knows that time is limited. When I first met her, we realized that had we met under any circumstance, we would have easily become friends.
The first time we visited, she was busy working on a painting that was about to become part of an art show to help raise funds for her care. She showed me a number of paintings. All were images filled with amazing color and captured her spirit.
Last week as she realized that she was encountering another change, she looked at me and asked, "What about my paintings? They are like my life, and right now all I see are pictures that aren't complete."
I shared with her that my grandmother had been an artist and died, leaving sketches and paintings that did not appear to be finished. There is one that I have that someone asked me when he saw it why I didn't finish it? I just remember looking at him and saying, "It is not mine to finish. It is already complete."
She looked at me, and together we found understanding. Like the paintings, there will always exist things in our life that may appear to be incomplete or unfinished. No matter how old or young we may be when we die, but for God who created each of us, the creation is complete, and our time to die happens.
"Even the flower of the field knows when to bloom, and understands when it is time to return to the earth," she said to me.
She looked at me and said, "Even Jesus knew when to say, 'It is finished.' Even as a Jew, I know that." We both looked at one another and smiled.
We are all made perfect through our imperfections. Today I am thankful for her friendship, the hours that we shared, and for unfinished things.
Stay in God's grip! Shalom
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.