vigil … a sacred word … a sacred time …

June 1, 2010

in Hospice & Palliative Medicine,Spirituality

“Life is a mystery, and we all acknowledge it, but we don’t really know it. You don’t know the heart, you don’t know the mind, you don’t know the body. You are in front of a mystery, you have to get that straight, and you must be there with awe and trembling because this is the mystery of God. You can never reduce this to a project or a program, to the manual.

This is just a small sign of what I’m saying, but I remember a woman who couldn’t breathe anymore. They’d tried everything they could, and she was not getting any better; so why keep the extremely uncomfortable inch-wide tube down her throat?

We were all gathered around as they removed the tube. We said our prayers, and I said the prayers for the dying – the whole litany of saints – and then I gave them my talk. I said, ‘There is a word for the work you’re doing, and it is a sacred word. We’ve heard this word, we don’t use it much, but it has a lot more meaning than we suspect. It’s vigil. You are keeping vigil. You are waiting upon the hour of the Lord. We just wait, because we love. This is our work: to wait together in love upon the Lord. It is the most sacred work of love that there is. There is no greater work than accepting to give your own life; this is the sacred work of love given to you by God Himself, and it’s a beautiful thing. The whole world is changed by that …'”

Life Promises Life – Vincent Nagle p. 96-7

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