Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3
My hospice patients have their own unique penance for Lent. During Lent’s journey, while each one of us is a cross bearer, my dear patients bear a heavier cross. They know the time has come to give up everyone and everything they have known in this life. They know that on Ash Wednesday, they will hear for the last time, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”.
Last Ash Wednesday I drove about 80 miles to bring ashes to my patients in hospice care. There was a sacred sadness and joy as I made the sign of the cross on their foreheads and said those words. At the end of the day, on one of my last visits, I was growing weary. As I said, “…and to dust you shall return” my even wearier patient said, “I hope it is soon.” She brought tears to my eyes as I prayed this would be true for her. When she asked that we give God a kick in the pants to come and get her, I asked if she had been visited by any of her loved ones already in heaven. She said “yes”, her mother had been coming to see her and was telling others in heaven to hurry and get things ready for her arrival.
For her and the others, it is not only to ashes, but to God’s Grace they will turn.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, we remember those who are nearing the end of their earthly lives and rejoice in knowing they will be welcomed home by your loving presence. We give thanks for the gift of eternal life made possible through your son, Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Deaconess Cheryl Plummer, Royal Oak, MI