Standing beside her bed, I looked at her bald head and wrinkled hands that peeked out from underneath the white blankets. Like usual, she looked thinner and weaker than earlier in the week. She was able to whisper. I knew she heard me though her eyes barely opened.
It was a holy moment.
My friend, a friend and mentor, age forty-six, had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in January. It was early April, Good Friday to be exact, and I was thankful she was still responsive to my words and touch. Each week when I visited her in the nursing home, she showed drastic signs of declining health. We all knew her death was eminent. Weeks – perhaps days – were left. No one knew exactly when.
Tracy never talked about going to church. No pastor called on her. When I first visited her in the hospital, she was open to me reading verses from Psalms and Isaiah as we talked about the path to death she knew she would travel. She said she believed in God though she didn’t attend church. She was always open to me praying with her before I left. In my heart, I couldn’t see my friend face death without discussing the love and grace of the One who created her. She never said why she didn’t go to church, but she was open and honest in saying she believed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Soon after her diagnosis, she was put in a nursing home and I visited her weekly. She was a single mom of two high school-aged children. Each week was different. Some weeks I delivered care packages from friends, some weeks I read cards sent to her, some weeks I just sat with her. Each week was a different step along her journey from life to death.
When I woke up on the morning of Good Friday, Tracy was in the forefront of my mind, knowing she may soon see the face of Jesus. My conscious didn’t leave me settled until I knew she understood the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. “I’ll be back,” I told my husband as I put a piece of bread in a Ziploc bag and hurried out the door to buy convenience-store grape juice. Thirty minutes later, I was beside my friend in her drab room.
As I read the Resurrection story to her from one of the gospels, I told her I brought some items with me if she wanted to have communion with me. She opened her eyes and whispered, “Yes.” I adjusted her hospital bed and she held the plastic bottle of grape juice with fragile hands as she put it to her mouth. She ate the piece of bread I gave her. Her chest moved up and down underneath her covers as her body breathed in peaceful rhythm with the holiness of the moment.
She took my hand. I prayed like usual, readjusted her hospital bed so she could return to her sleep, and I kissed her forehead.
Within a few weeks, she quietly slipped away, just days after her son’s high school graduation. She had asked me to give her eulogy. No words could express the holy experience I privately witnessed over the past several months watching a vibrant healthy mother slowly slip into the arms of Jesus. No words could console the children and family I had to speak in front of. But in His holiness, He provided the right words that were received with sanctity and hope.
God is like that, giving us expression for things too holy and precious–the Holy Spirit working in us when we cannot possibly do a task on our own.
When has the Holy Spirit done this for you? If God is prompting you to do the hard task, don’t do it yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to overtake and do what you possibly can’t do. And then praise Him in the place of holiness, and allow Him to do it again and again.
Father, thank you that your Spirit provides all we need in the moments that are too hard. Thank you for the moments of sacred when we least expect it. Help us to be faithful to act on your behalf when you’re prompting us, being your hands and feet on earth. Amen.