Romans 15:13 (The Message)
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope.
On December 3, 2004 my dad celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday by having lunch with a friend. While eating, he choked. Later his concerned friend called me to report the incident. I responded that my brother would be coming that evening to spend the night with him to celebrate.
When Tom arrived, Dad was experiencing a great deal of physical difficulty. EMS was called and transported him to the hospital. He was admitted with aspiration pneumonia.
On Monday the doctor called to inform me that Dad was better and would be discharged that afternoon. I shared the fact that I was in Houston (140 miles away) and that my family had many concerns about his declining health. It was determined more testing was necessary before dismissal. When I arrived at the hospital that evening, we had a grim diagnosis—inoperable esophageal cancer. We had hard decisions to make. Dad was admitted to the assisted living facility attached to the hospital.
Thus, began my first journey with “social distancing.” I made the decision to “move home” for several months to help care for Dad. Of course, I could see people but for the most part, they weren’t “my” people. In my new normal, I was seeing Dad’s people—his neighbors, friends and the friends of my youth.
When you are from small town Texas and your dad is well-known and loved by everyone, the support is tremendous. I settled in and let the love and concern surround me.
As the months passed, I felt less connected to Houston. Life was moving on without me. I talked to my friends often, but it wasn’t like being there. My daily life was with my “new” old friends.
Dad died July 9, 2005 surrounded by the people who loved him. He was gone and it was time for me to move on with life, but I couldn’t. What did I want to do now?
After returning to Houston, I struggled to regain a sense of balance. I felt as though I didn’t belong and wondered if I should move back home and live in Dad’s house. I had trouble fitting into my old niche.
Shortly before Christmas I attended a program at St. Luke’s. The speaker used the text I have chosen as the springboard for her presentation. It struck a chord deep in my heart.
After the program, I told her how it had touched me. She smiled and said, “You are the one! I always pray that my message will help someone. Today YOU are the one!!!”
Her words meant so much to me. From that day forward I began to feel green hope returning through the work of the Holy Spirit. I started to feel like myself again and was able to move on with life.
As we move through these uncertain pandemic times, may we be filled with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit as we pray for guidance and discernment. May we be the ones to spread green hope.
Oh, God. You know we are frightened, worried and struggling with so many issues. Please help up to hold fast to hope and spread it as we move through life. Show us ways to be a positive presence in the world. In your Son’s name. Amen.