Who has not found the heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God’s residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.
I sit at the bedside of a woman whom I have known for several years. She has been a bright spot in my days and in the days of many others. Always smiling, relentlessly positive and hopeful, she’s a delight to see in her accustomed place in worship on Sundays. When the service ends she always speaks a word of thanks and encouragement to me. Even in these last few months, when it has obvious that she is struggling with her health, she continues to be the same joyful, grateful person.
And now she lies in her bed, not really aware of my presence. Her son is telling me about his wonderful mother, and I’m surprised to hear of the deep pain and brokenness that she’s had to endure in her life, raising her children often by herself, and then caring for her husband for quite a few years at the end of his life. Then again, maybe I’m not surprised, because I’ve heard so many stories like this. But this lady, well, she always seemed so solid, so whole!
It occurs to me that, even in her time of dying, she continues to teach some deep faith lessons. What I understand from her life is that hope, and wholeness, are not based just on our external circumstances, but rather on whether we can find the “heaven below.” It can be found in caring for one another, and in our gratitude to God for life, love, beauty and friendship. It can be found in knowing that God is present, that his “residence is next to mine,” and in always seeking that presence. It can be found in understanding the truth of the words of Jesus, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).
by Jim Kok, Executive Director of Chaplain services for Christian Living Communities
Photo by mclcbooks on Flickr – Creative Commons licensed
Christian Living Communities ministers to senior adults through a continuum of services and care that reflects Christian love, respect and compassion and that enriches the quality and dignity of life for each individual.