It was a good spring day, at least until the late afternoon. The Sunday service at Emmaus, the little house church to which we belong, had been particularly helpful; afterwards I had been able to catch up on some necessary school work.
Let's face it," my clergy friend said to me. "We clergy are much better with people after they are dead than when they are dying. We know how to do funerals. But we find it very difficult to be present with and to care for people at the end of life."
A metal door opened, and we were invited in. Draped sloppily in white linen was a body on a table, frozen and immovable. I immediately recognized the feet, and then, after taking a step, I saw the beloved face. I bent over and gave the cold forehead one final kiss. A wind of deep sadness shook my whole body and my eyes welled up with tears.
I have a seven-year-old granddaughter by marriage named Madeline. She is blond, skinny and tall for her age. When she comes to visit, we cook together. Our most successful dishes to date have been mashed sweet potatoes with lots of butter and crescent dinner rolls made from scratch.
I began teaching the graduate class on the early church's views of Christ with ambivalent feelings. I had been given a rare and precious leave to work on a book, and I was anxious to use my writing time well. I shuddered to think of the time the class would take.