In our parish bulletin was a request for volunteers willing to sit with the dying; wanting to ensure that none died alone. My 104 year old grandmother had recently died and I was thankful that my aunt and her friends stayed with my grandmother during her final hours, since I lived three hours away and could not be there. I felt compelled to do for others, what I could not do for my grandmother.
I sat with a small, frail stranger three or four hours a day during his final week. The first time I took his hand, I noticed his irregular, labored breathing would calm and became peaceful. What an amazing gift for him with such little effort on my part. I sat and read as I kept vigil. My reading was interrupted by a thought…what if I was holding the hand of a rapist, drunk or thief? Suddenly, I felt this vision or knowing come to me…those things that I worried about were all man made things. His reputation and behaviors, when pulled away from the God made spirit or soul, exposed the beautiful, perfect part of his being that was made in the likeness of God. This perfect part of him looked exactly like that part of me and any other person on earth regardless of the sin we all have committed. I instantly fell in love with this stranger and I was so privileged and honored to be present at this time of his life.
10 years ago, there were three individuals who made my professional life miserable. It was because of them, I left the job I loved and excelled at. I love my new job even more, which made it easy to forgive the three because, had they not made me uncomfortable in that job, I would never had taken my current job, which has been so rewarding.
There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting. Years later, despite the happiness in my current job, animosity and spiteful feelings would well up in me each time I would cross paths with those three individuals. At reconciliation, Father would share strategies or perspectives to help me move past the pain they had created for me, but still, those feelings would resurface.
After the experience with the dying stranger, I am now able to look beyond that imperfect man-made shell of these three individuals. I am able to forgive, forget AND love them for the perfect God-made soul they are. Such a gift of peace I have received. I had gone to the nursing home to give of myself to others but instead, received a far greater gift from this stranger.
It is important to always put ourselves in the place of greatest potential to BE Jesus or RECEIVE Jesus. Each person you see or meet is there for a reason…either to make a difference in YOUR life or for you to be a blessing in THEIRS. If all you do is work in your cubical, barn, home or factory and you then go home and spend the rest of your day in front of a TV or game station, you are cheating yourself and others from experiencing Jesus through the gifts and talents he has given each of us. How are others going to cross your path if you are not ON the path? ~Brenda
cc: hickory hardscrabble – https://www.flickr.com/photos/66621355@N00