As a convert, close spiritual relationships with my Catholic sisters-in-the-Lord are among God’s most treasured and healing gifts.
One Catholic sister-in-the-Lord, is dying of brain cancer. A dear friend, a Catholic sister-in-the-Lord, is dying of brain cancer. She’s the Grateful-for-Adversity Grandmother I wrote about last year.
I went to visit her across town when she first was diagnosed and, after many tests, accepted it was terminal. We spent four hours together, talking, praying, singing and watching a little Catholic TV together. Mostly we just sat on her bed together and loved one another in the presence of the Lord.
Last week I planned to visit and bring a meal to her. I called her husband one morning to let him know I was coming. He was grateful but warned me that the day before five people showed up with food. Most of the new meals were now in their freezer that was above their packed refrigerator.
Realizing another day would be better, I postponed my visit in favor of an extended telephone conversation. I settled in a comfortable chair and dialed my friend to tell her I was praying for her and would come another day. She answered after several rings but with the TV on, couldn’t hear me clearly. I told her I was praying for her. I’m not sure she heard me. She handed the phone over to her neighbor who was sitting with her until her husband returned. I was frustrated with the arrangement and after a few pleasantries and well wishes said I would come soon.
Now I had a huge pot of beef stew, a Waldorf salad large enough for eight people, rolls and blueberry scones prepared for my Catholic sister who didn’t need them. My husband and I ate some of this feast, but I felt it was not meant for us alone.
He reminded me that I had not yet met our new neighbor of a few days. He wanted us to bring her some of his homemade gelato. I was cautious because she was a single mother who worked at a hospital, and I didn’t want to show up on her doorstep when she might be sleeping. What kind of a welcome was that? I put the timing of making this new acquaintance before the Lord.
The next morning, as I was backing the car out of our garage that faces hers, she was coming in. We waved, and I said, “Welcome. I’m hoping to get over to meet you.”
She replied, “I’m sure our schedules will work out for that soon.”
Later that evening as my husband and I were cleaning the garage, she came out her front door with her five-year-old son. He darted toward two neighbor boys playing nearby. She headed for our house. It was a surprising introduction. Names, first, then our careers. She told me she is a physician’s assistant. I said I was a writer. “What do you write?” she asked.
“Catholic inspirational blogs and books.”
She came alive with delight! “A Catholic sister!” she exclaimed! And we begin to tell our faith stories.
A blessed evening
My husband and I invited them in. We talked for more than two hours about our faith, the neighborhood and our families. We drank Moscato and ate gelato and ginger snaps.
I knew that the food I prepared for my dying Catholic sister was meant for my new Catholic sister. As her sleepy son languished on the couch, signaling they needed to go home, I quickly packed up the feast. We parted with hugs.
How great is our God! He gives us special friends we grow to love over the years as sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ. Before he takes one sister home to heaven, he gave me a new one to embrace and grow close to in the future. And this time right next door.
What spiritual relationships do you value in your life?
(© 2016 Nancy HC Ward)