When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
~ John 21:15
I sat with a young woman earlier this week. She is a special needs person who has struggled her entire life with health issues, and now is on hospice. There is something about being with people who, even as an adult, possess the faith of a child.
Her younger sister has cared for her for twenty years since their mother died, and has devoted her entire life to making sure that her sister has been cared for. Laughter erupted as the two shared that because of the pandemic, the younger sister has been "forced," into the kitchen and has begun to work on the recipes that their mother taught them. "I bought five pounds of corn flour. I decided that if I didn't find a way to make corn tortillas like our mother by the end of the bag, then I just wasn't going to get it right."
I asked her sister, "So, how did she do?"
Her sister closed her eyes, pulled her lips in, and then laughed out, "They were awful! They just fell apart!"
We laughed so hard that we all had tears in our eyes, "But then I got it," the one sister shared. "It was as if I could hear our mother's voice, and before long, I could remember the 'feel,' and could hear her saying, 'You've got it.'"
It got quiet, and the two sisters looked at one another, and the young woman who is my patient looked at me and said, "and mom told me I get to come to heaven with her soon."
Her bed, up against the wall of the bedroom, lined with various Sesame Street stuffed characters, seem to look at us as we talked. "So, what do you think that will be like?" I asked.
The young woman was out of breath from laughter, and she slowly began to share, "It's going to be beautiful, but I am going to be sad. I'm going to miss my sister."
In just a few words, our tears of laughter, managed to turn to tears of grief, and they hugged one another. The depth of love the two have for one another reminds me of the extent that we can actually love one another. Their love is the presence of God's love for us. Unselfish, unconditional, and unwavering.
In a world that is filled with conditional relationships, I am reminded that love can exist. Their relationship and love for one another is honest. The two shared about a time as children when they would fight with one another. "Our mom would braid our hair, and she would only do it every other day, so those braids were so tight that it would pull our face back," they laughed again as the one sister took both hands and pulled her face back to illustrate just how tight the braids were. "When we would fight, we would grab one another's braids and pull as hard as we could, because we already knew they hurt, and that it would just hurt more."
I asked, "So, how would you make up?"
They shared, "We slept in the same bed. There was no choice but just to forgive each other."
Again, their relationship reminded me that we are to love one another deeply, just as God loves each of us. None of us are immune from the power of God's love. Those who have turned away, or been angry, or struggled to do "what's right," are never beyond the love of God.
I shared, "You are so fortunate. There is not a single day that the two of you have shared where you haven't felt some form of love for one another."
None of us should hold back from loving deeply. There will be great pain when the one sister dies, but that does not prevent them from loving one another. Their relationship is the visual reminder for those who struggle to have faith, to believe, or to know just how deeply we can love, and be loved.
It is the reminder of just how deeply God loves us, and makes me realize why it is that God sent Jesus. We are called to love one another, just as God has loved us. I'm grateful for these two sisters who have embodied this love.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.