SACRED MOMENT, SACRED SPACE
By TERRY CAGLE
On November 14, my wonderful mother-in-law passed away. After an intense but mercifully short struggle with lung cancer, she quietly left this broken world and entered the eternal kingdom of God. Her “not-yet” became her “forever now.” She passed right after my wife, her sister Cecile and sister-in-law Diane finished the chorus to her favorite hymn, “It is well, It is well with my soul!” And the heart monitor read zero. Sacred moment, sacred space.
On December 13, my beloved father passed away. After living 94 years, my truly kind and loving Daddy stopped his very shallow breathing and took in a full breath of perfection. He too had reached the goal–Home! About three hours earlier, my sweet sister and I had left his room after kissing his sleeping face and saying that we loved him. The 1:30 a.m. call was not a surprise but a relief. Sacred moment, sacred space.
It is in these times of memory mixed with potent shots of grief that our faith has its most audacious meaning. It means that our loved ones have finished the race and are in the midst of a joy so rare and exquisite that there are no words that can do it justice. Why are the biblical pictures of the life to come so obtuse and strange? Because there’s no way to describe the indescribable. We’re not going to get it until we get it. But in the meantime, I love the words that John uses to describe what our last living parents are now enjoying:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” [Revelation 21:3-5]
At the family visitation following my Dad’s passing, one of our dear friends said to Becki, “How’s it feel to be at the front of the line?” A new place that is closer to the reality of the “everything new.” A place that is not always comfortable but is always on the edge of eternity. A place that is to be avoided yet longed for. A step closer to home. Getting younger as we grow older.
Last week I saw a video of a 66-year-old parish priest from Ireland. His name is Father Ray Kelly, and he was singing on “Britain’s Got Talent” back in 2018 [You can find it on YouTube]. I watched and was amazed. His voice was wondrous. His choice of songs? “Everybody Hurts,” by REM, one of my favorite bands from the ‘90s. It was beautiful. It was transcendent. It was what I needed to hear. Sacred moment, sacred space.
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on)
Hold on if you feel like letting go (hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
Well, hang on
‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Well, everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody hurts sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
You are not alone
WE ARE NEVER ALONE. Thank you, Jesus, for every sacred moment, sacred space.
Terry Cagle is executive director of Connecting Caring Communities