Here are two more stories from the opposite ends of life, about a little girl and an aging lady.
Earlier this summer, while a grandmother took her little granddaughter, about 9 years old, to visit the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, I spoke with the grandfather in the rectory.
It was a weekday. The cathedral was empty. As the grandmother pointed out the different things about the cathedral, suddenly the little girl just burst into song. At the top of her little lungs she sang “Amazing Grace.” It was a performance for two – for Christ in the tabernacle, and for her grandmother.
Many celebrations of various kinds occur in the cathedral – ordinations, consecrations, graduations, eucharistic celebrations of every sort, and on and on. But I have a hunch that this hymn of praise pleased God as much as any of the others. This performance was spontaneous. No rehearsals. No master of ceremonies. It was a song of joy from the heart.
The psalms tell us to “make a joyful noise before the Lord.” I obviously wasn’t there to know if it was noise. But it was joyful. I had to tell you about it. Jesus wanted me to share the joy with you.
The second story comes from the other end of life. Patricia Salacuse volunteers at a hospital. One day she delivered some flowers and a gift to an elderly lady, and then struck up a conversation with the lady.
This fragile, elderly lady was despondent. She told Pat about a conversation she had just had with her grandson. The lady said: “I told him that life is supposed to be beautiful. You live a good life. As you get older, things get better and you are happily surrounded by all the good things God has promised. But I don’t believe that any more, because as you get older, you get sick, you suffer and then you die.”
That night, however, the lady had a dream. In the dream she saw a man’s face. He said to her: “Don’t worry about what you go through here. There is so much joy waiting for you.”
Pat explained to her that she thought that it was a spirit who had spoken to her, saying, “Here doesn’t matter compared to the hereafter.” The elderly lady said “Yes.” The next day she called her grandson and said: “Remember when we talked yesterday? Well, forget everything I said.”
All of us have such moments as the lady had. None of us likes the limits that aging brings. None of us likes the medical problems associated with aging. Thank God this lady had an angel in Patricia, as well as an angel in her dreams.
We never have to apologize for our feelings. After all, they are just feelings, and we can let them go. But it’s also good that we have people with whom we can share our feelings. It’s easier to let go when we can let things out.
It’s comforting too, to recognize that Jesus sweat blood as he anticipated his own death. Anxiety and depression were a part of his life as well. Yet, in Luke’s Gospel, there is a comforting angel.
We all need such angels in our lives. We all need to be such angels to others. We all need to remind each other that we are all so much more than our minds and our bodies. We are so much more than these limited creatures of time and space.
We are eternal spirits, and when we die our spirits become a part of God’s spirit. And since we believe in the resurrection of the body, we believe one day we will get this body back – a glorified body like Christ’s – no longer limited by time and space. Death doesn’t win. Life wins. Love wins. God wins. We win.
All the angels agree!