Every Tuesday, I spend the day with residents of the senior care center where my parents lived for several years. Yesterday, I had lunch with my parents’ former neighbor, a 95-year old widow. She’s a spunky lady whose mind is amazingly sharp even though her body is wearing out.
We had pleasant conversation about the hot weather and a new pair of earrings. Then just as I took a bite of dessert, my elderly friend blurted out something that almost made me choke. “Could you get me one of those Do Not Resuscitate forms so that I can tape it to the headboard of my bed?”
I swallowed hard. Even with the grin on her face, my friend was serious. She is a no-nonsense woman of deep faith who talks easily about death and dying.
When I got home, I printed a copy of the Do Not Resuscitate order for our state. Then I called to let her know that I had put it in the mail. She cheerily thanked me as if I had just delivered her a cherry pie.
It was a moment that was oddly sweet. A moment that pointed me to a bigger faith issue.
I started thinking about the many unchurched elderly in care facilities or at home alone. I wondered how many of them were wrestling with deep spiritual questions about life and death in the loneliness of their rooms. In the darkness of their nights. I wondered how many were alone, with no believers to walk alongside and encourage them.
And so I pray that the church will reach out to those who are nearing the end of life’s journey. May we be the hands of Christ that steady a stooped body. May we be the smile that uplifts a wilted spirit. Let us not pass by those who are frail and yet unchurched. We are called for such a time as this.