Some of life's most beautiful moments happen when we are at our most vulnerable. As a hospice volunteer, I have the honor of being with people during some of those most tender times.
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting with a man who I had never met, and who had no family in the area.
He was in his last hours of life, and there was a group of us, trained in keeping vigil, who were taking turns in his quiet company so he did not have to die alone.
I sat in amazement, knowing that at any moment heaven and earth would collide, right there in the room, becoming one for a sacred split second.
Soon this man would write the epilogue of his life and experience what Anne Lamott, in her wit and wisdom calls, "a fairly significant change of address." (Thanks, Anne.)
The following prayer was written as we gathered together in liminal time - the man and I, the choir of angels, the caregivers who floated in and out, and the God of all things.
Then I read it aloud to him.
He did not move. His eyes were closed. But we know the dying can hear.
And I felt that he heard and received his blessing, and took it into his soul as he travelled on his way to a more beautiful world.
I offer it to you now as a blessing to have and hold for a time when you find yourself sitting next to your beloved, your friend, your parent, your child or a beautiful stranger who is dying.
They will hear. They will receive it. And they will carry it in their soul as they travel on their way.
Blessing for the Dying
by Mary Davis
Bless you on your way.
Bless the life you have lived - each day, each hour, each minute.
Bless all of the people you have ever loved.
Bless all of the people who have ever loved you.
Bless the work you did here - what you made with your hands, your heart, and your love.
Bless the joy you felt - the moments of laughter and celebration.
Bless the moments of regret for things said and unsaid, done and undone.
Bless the forgiveness that releases those regrets and replaces them with love.
Bless the peace that surrounds you as you fly free.
Bless the curtain that rises to let you in.
Bless the love that welcomes your soul.
Bless the God that heals all wounds, takes all pain, and shows you the love that you are,
and always were, and always will be.
Bless the moment when you become that love.
Bless you on your way.