Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Living the Last Chapter...

Here are two touching books from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, just published from Eerdmans. A Faithful Farewell, living your last chapter with love came out last April and A Long Letting Go, meditations on loving someone you love came out in July of this year (2015). They go together and I will certainly keep my two together as I think and pray about those last days that we all must face as we journey on toward our Lord Jesus Christ and "those we love but see no longer."

Marilyn is not about to die, I think, but she offers A Faithful Farewell for those who are now facing death. With her experience by "the bedsides of those who are living their dying" and with her own "reflection about my own aging and death," she offers these pages in the hope that they "will affirm a solidarity that makes every dying an opportunity to awaken and open the heart." Each short meditation concludes with a prayer "to lean into when finding your own words requires more energy than you have." And after the prayer, you may find a few lines from a favorite hymn to remind you "of the many ways songs and hymns have sustained the life of faith, especially in hard times."

In the second book, A Long Letting Go, Marilyn says "At some point in our lives, most of us will become caregivers." It may be for a short time, or for a longer period of chronic illness. Either way, it will involve us in another's preparation for death. It is preparation for "a letting go that draws upon our deepest spiritual resources in ways impossible to fully anticipate." Marilyn offers her "harvest of experiences and reflections that may provide some direction, hope, or consolation in a time when generosity, imagination, patience, and love may be stretched in unprecedented ways." Her suggestions are written in four sections: Accompanying, Stories of Letting Go, Mourning, and Words for Keeping Watch. She reminds us that we have only promises to help us imagine the next life, but they are a sound basis for hope.

In the section on Stories.... I found one of my own experiences: my friend Jessie, in her 90's, said: "Why? I'm ready. Why doesn't the Lord call me?" she asked me. "Jessie," I said, trying to comfort her: "the Lord must have a few more things for you to do while you are here." She laughed. But she probably will be helping and encouraging others as she has been doing for years, as she waits for the Lord's call. And we will miss her when she goes.

These two books are very helpful. I recommend them. And I think that those who are feeling the pain of loss will find comfort and encouragement here.

----Lois Sibley