Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Visitation in a Hospice Home

Today I visited in a hospice home with a long time member of our church. I've never been in a hospice center before. This particular one in Fort Wayne - Visiting Nurse and Hospice Home - is a beautiful facility on Homestead Road.

What was more beautiful was the atmosphere in the room, the attitude of Phyllis and her family. You only enter a hospice home if you are on the verge of death. You don't normally walk out of one alive, unless you went there prematurely. In hanging out with the Helvie family, I was moved by the total comfortableness they had with being there. Phyllis even said she had perfect peace about coming there... later she retracted the word perfect - at least she's honest. But it was easy to laugh about memories, talk candidly about facing death, to speak movingly about appreciating each day that comes.

Phyllis' daughter-in-law remarked that God must still want them to be together, since she'd been in the hospice home for over two weeks. It was clear that there was much affection and kindness being exuded in a most natural fashion amongst everyone. Life is on hold for the whole family, on standby, waiting for the phone call to come to the hospice home for that last moment together this side of heaven.

We talked about the advantage of taking plenty of time to prepare for death. Of making the choice to come to hospice and wait to die. But in this case, the waiting is reminescent of a daily family reunion and walks down pleasant memory lanes. And there is a strong anticipation of waking up one day adn instead of focusing eyes on the fluorescent lights on the ceiling, the eyes will be adjusting to The Light of the World...what a day that will be. Phyllis will be moving from one family reunion to another...she commented that she knows more people in Heaven than on Earth.

I read some Scripture with her - the text I am preaching from on Sunday. My theme for the sermon: become wise by binding up the brokenhearted; gain wisdom by attaching your life to one who suffers. My visit on Wednesday reminds me that this source of wisdom doesn't have to be morose. God gives beauty for ashes, joy for tears.


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