“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”
~ Luke 24:15 -16
As I walked into the room, I could smell the overpowering presence of lilies in the corner. Their fragrance, fresh, and color, brilliant. "I went ahead and had my daughter pick them up because I know I won't be here for Easter this year," the woman told me.
"Do you suppose it's okay to celebrate Easter before the end of Lent?"
The woman and I have been meeting each other weekly for the past two months. As I visit, I recognize the change in her skin color. The times she struggles to find the words to share how she is feeling. The difficulty she has in swallowing even ice chips. For her, the precious semicolon that appears at the end of life, is quickly approaching.
"Of course not," I shared, knowing that her understanding of Easter involves resurrection.
"The Easter lilies are helping me to realize that death is not final."
For her, lilies serve as the illustration of hope. While there is still fear, and the physical reminders that she will soon die, there is still this image of resurrection before her. While she understands she will soon no longer be present as we know her to be now, she also is speaking of life in a way that writers attempt to capture, when they write, "Life;".
Semicolons are an interesting piece of the English language. My high school English teachers who often read and comment on my blog will be thankful that I listened on the day that they discussed this punctuation mark. As a chaplain, my days are filled with the proverbial semicolon as life greets both death and resurrection. "Life;" is our encounter with the Holy One. It is where our faith, meets hope, and promises are not just an idea, but a reality.
The lilies in the corner of her room, with it's fragrance, reminds us of God's presence, even when unseen. For her, the lilies represent the good news, that although she will die, there is the belief that life will continue to exist beyond the grave.
For her, she is not only affirming her faith, but inviting others to look beyond the last breath.
As I was leaving, allowing my lungs to embrace one last breath of the intoxicating fragrance, she smiled and said, "They got you thinking about resurrection as well, didn't they?"
I smiled, realizing that what she said was true.
God is no longer distant. Death is a moment. Resurrection is for eternity. It simply begins, "Life;"
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.