We invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.
By Chaplain Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.” — Hebrews 11:13, 14, NKJV
At a recent grief group, I asked residents to reflect on ways they felt that they were coming back to life after this long pandemic winter. With vaccines now widely distributed across our communities and the great thaw beginning outside, I thought the question would be welcome. Instead, it was met at first with resistance, as the suggestion of "coming back to life" felt like closing the stories of their loved ones who had died.
One resident spoke eloquently about why and gave permission to share here. She explained that a couple of weeks back, she had the opportunity to receive ashes upon her forehead in remembrance that "we have come from dust and to dust we will return." This symbol was powerful for her. She said, "The ashes in the form of a cross on my forehead remind me of an unfinished story which will be complete when I am literal ash."
We are all living in an unfinished story. C.S. Lewis called this earthly life, "The Shadowlands," a place of loss and questioning where our spiritual ancestors embraced promises that would not be fulfilled on earth. They endured much, knowing that this world was not their ultimate home.
Another resident reflected on what her husband taught her, saying, "He showed me that it was okay to die. He went before me – and he showed me how. He taught me to deal with health challenges, to deal with change, to let go, to give to others until the last breath, and to love intensely, as much as is earthly possible."
As we enter midway into Lent, and more deeply into the mystery of walking through loss and death on the path to new life, we remember that many of our stories are not only unfinished, but they have hardly begun. As C.S. Lewis wrote of death at the end of The Last Battle
, "Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
All quotes in this devotion shared with written permission from grief group attendees.
Optage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel facilitates grief groups across PHS sites and in the larger community. She lived in Hawaii for a decade, before returning home to Minnesota. In Hawaii, she worked as Director of Bereavement Services and helped found Hospice of Kona’s Maluihi Grief Center. Jenny is also an author, most recently of
Naming The Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death.
The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.
Find more in the Light for the Way series:
Witnessing God's faithfulness and the early signs of a 'new normal'
Love from ashes: an Ash Wednesday reflection
Be still. Know God.
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series
In addition to Light for the Way,
you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website