This week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, September 27, 2019
My family and I are truly grateful to have received such a warm welcome. I am already learning so much in my time with you. Heather has been gracious in providing me with opportunities to learn, especially this week as I prepare for my first time preaching at Trinity.
As I sit down to prepare for Sunday, the words from last week still ring in my ears. We left the prophet Jeremiah in a place of despair, in a situation that seemed hopeless. He had tried so hard for so long, but nobody would listen. As a result, he knew they would face a doom of their own making. It was more than he could bear to witness.
This hopelessness is something I have known. My father quite contentedly had a lifestyle of overworking and not taking proper care of himself. I had tried over many years to encourage him to adopt new habits, but he was set in his ways. His doctor, who would have had similar conversations over the years, gave him grave news: he had 18 months at best.
This news made my energetic and spirited Dad recoil. He became consumed with grief and despair, regretful that he would leave my mom and I in a precarious situation. Seeing my Dad overcome with regret was worse than seeing him ill.
He and I were close, and would often grab a “Timmie’s” and drive along the Niagara river. On several occasions, I delicately brought up how he was forgiven and ought to have no regret where we were concerned, hoping he could have some peace. It was always met abruptly with a “quit preaching, kid”. He was notoriously hard on himself, and did not want to hear this from his daughter. I felt completely hopeless. Would my father live out his last days, months this way? Might he die with this regret and pain in his heart? Recognizing our horns were locked, I prayed something like, “God, if I am not the right person to support my dad through this, please provide someone”.
Dad was in and out of the hospital for many months. After his death, mom and I spent some time going through his belongings at the family home. The phone rang, and I heard a voice I didn’t recognize. The man introduced himself as Henri, a consecrated lay person from the Jesuit tradition. He had roomed with my dad at the hospital. Between hospital stays when my dad was well, he would visit Henri at the nursing home where he resided. Henri expressed that he was very sorry to hear that my dad passed away, that they had become friends. Henri also shared that he was privileged to have been instrumental in helping my dad to make peace with his life, and death.
A ray of hope suddenly pierced the darkness of my grief. I could never have imagined better news. What truly amazes me, was that Dan (my now husband) had a tree planted in my father’s memory. He brought me there to propose, without realizing it was at the walking trail directly beside Henri’s nursing home. This coincidence still confounds my brain. What I am certain of is that we have a God of hope, who can turn ashes of despair into growing, blossoming, beautiful trees. This week, we will pick up where we left off in Jeremiah, where we will discover a similar symbolic gesture, which would serve to restore hope.
“Houses, fields and vineyards will again be purchased in this land” – Jeremiah 32:15