There is so much in ministry that is functional. Pastors do things. We create things. We write things. We organize things. We preach sermons. We plan Christmas Eve services. We meet people for coffee and talk about stuff - usually, somewhat important stuff. Sometimes we blog about life and other important things. We pray, we read, we update our church's facebook and twitter status. We go to meetings and retreats. It can be a busy life.
And then. . .sometimes we just sit. We sit with the woman, the single mother, who is dying of cancer. We sit and hold her hand, and say a prayer, and offer words of comfort (that she may or may not hear) and we modestly avert our eyes when, in her confusion, she rolls out of her hospital gown. We offer kind words to family members who stop by. We read scripture. But mostly, we sit, because there's not much else to do. And we promise her that she is held firmly in the grasp of God, so she can let go when she feels ready, because, really, it's all good.
But we sit, with death. Nurses come and go, because they have stuff to do. But we mostly sit.
And we realize that this is the real stuff, the place where life is at its most real and most raw. Everything else feels like treading water. These are the holy moments. And so we sit, and, if we are wise, we mostly keep our mouths shut.
And then we say a few halting words, and head out into the bright sunshine, but our hearts are heavy, because we carry the burden of death with us.
Lord, have mercy on a friend who is going home, and have mercy on those who care for her these long days and long nights.