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Friday, January 4, 2008


Red Oak in Winter

Winter seems the time of letting go. Even the leaves that cling past their time to the red oak have fallen and scattered with the wind of winter. The last of the unclaimed apples still cling to the branches but every day another drops with the temperature. The died back perennials have only the hope of roots and bulbs below the surface keeping life going to sprout up again in spring.

Neil’s 92 year-old, aunt, who never had children is letting go of visible life as well. She lives in a three tiered retirement home near our condo in Seattle. Moving out of her home to ours and then from our home many years ago to independent living she moved to assisted when she could no longer remember medication. Two months ago after breaking her arm in a fall, she moved to the health care center. She now has given up, “failure to thrive” they said, refusing to eat or drink. In her medical directive she adamantly stipulated that she did not want to be kept artificially alive, no feeding tubes, nor IVs. A hospice team has come in to assure her comfort and she has round the clock nurses. We go and sit by her side. We put salve on her lips and do what we can. She mainly is unresponsive but hears us.

I talk to her about heaven and her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom she will meet on the other side. She looks my way. I tell her about the book I read "Heaven", she who loved to read listens. I talk about the new heaven and earth that is promised to believers where there is no failing body nor pain nor sorrow. She can see her beloved dog Pepper again. I talk about the hard to imagine beauty of an unspoiled earth. She with a photographer’s eye understands capturing a moment with camera before it fades or passes. No more waiting for that right moment, it will be there all the time, yet unending beauty to capture. She can play her violin in the greatest symphony orchestra ever.

She may be dying, but like the perennials, with her root in Jesus, she will spring up on the other side in full blossom never to die again. And we who wait and watch and care are saddened. But because we also know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have hope we can meet her on the other side when the winter season of our life says it is now our turn to let go.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…”

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