Love; it's this weeks' Advent word. My husband and I walked into church yesterday morning to be greeted by a friend, she came right up to me with a sad look in her eye. "I have some bad news" she began, " it's really bad." I braced myself. She went on to tell us that our church's Parish Administrator had unexpectedly and suddenly died over the weekend. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach, I certainly hadn't braced myself firmly enough to receive that tragic news! Phyllis, our efficient and always professional Parish Administrator could easily run our church office with one hand tied behind her back; she knew everything, every one, and kept it all straight. There was never any confusion as to where she stood or what was being handled, Phyllis was a straight shooter and a clear communicator. In every phone call, e-mail or face to face meeting that I had with her over the years I always came away feeling confident and reassured that whatever business we had spoken about was being tended to, and well. We became friends as time passed and we both became grandmothers, often chatting about the joys of grandchildren; and yet, Phyllis was always the consummate professional when it came to the church office. Late this past spring she was plagued with back pain and time after time had to postpone treatment because of some chronic breathing and pulmonary issues. At long last, about three weeks ago, she was deemed healthy enough to undergo back surgery and she came through that procedure with flying colors. Last Thursday I checked on her and learned that she had a Dr.'s appointment that afternoon and was doing fine. Her last Facebook status update, dated November 28, confirmed her now pain-free state and her desire to get back to work as soon as possible.
How was the news that I had just heard even possible?
I sat in the sanctuary yesterday morning and tried to remember the last time I had seen Phyllis and spoken with her. All of a sudden the moment came flooding back, as clear as could be. We were standing in the hall outside the church offices, she was hurting and had come in to tend to busisness for as long as she could that day; she was eagerly looking forward to getting her surgery behind her. I told her that I would be praying for her. She started to walk away, turned back toward me and said "I love you." I echoed that sentiment right back to her, extremely uncharacteristic behavior; and yet, in that time and space it didn't seem unusual at all. I walked away feeling God's presence between us and surrounding us. I knew that she was going to be okay. This exchange haunted me yesterday, but in a very good way. I am so deeply thankful now that I expressed those words of love, I had no way of knowing then that they would be the very last words we'd ever speak to each other.
So, back to our Advent word of the week: love; don't hold it too tight. Remember the rhyme by Hammerstein, live it; your heart can't possibly hold onto all the love that you have. By all means... give it away; you will be so glad that you did!
Life is Good!