Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Today’s collect begins, “O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation…”

For many years, I had the privilege of working in hospice care where I witnessed some marvelous work.

Hospice professionals are dedicated to helping people experience “good” and peaceful deaths. At the end of their lives, many people face a period of “life review.” Patients often share intimate stories of their disappointments and hurts. They describe regrets about wounded and broken relationships. It is our honor to assist them in the hard work of reconciliation when their time is short.

During the height of the AIDS epidemic, it was not uncommon to have patients estranged from their families. I clearly remember times when colleagues successfully counseled and brought families together in extraordinary examples of God’s grace.

I still vividly see the face of one young man for whom this happened. Estranged for years, he and his parents were reunited. They brought him home to the house where he was raised—and cared for him. His last days were filled with words and acts of love, thanksgiving, forgiveness, and reconciliation. He experienced a good and peaceful death, lying in his mother’s arms.

In hospice, we are taught to help families tell one another these 5 important things:

I love you.

Thank you.

Forgive me.

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

Why wait until our time is short? Perhaps, during this Lent, is there someone who needs to hear these words?