Luke 20:27-38Â – The 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ November 10, 2013
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a questionâ€¦â€ (Luke 20:27)
I first wrote these sentences in 2010, when I volunteered at the hospice I now work for . . .
A large dog shambles into the room. He limps by and takes a token sniff of me, then settles near the window. Heâ€™s found a slice of sunshine. In the next hour, the German shepherd mix will shift positions, but itâ€™s difficult. A car accident ruined his hind legs years ago. Smaller dogsâ€”I never know what kind or how manyâ€”stay quiet. A barrier set across the door keeps them in the back of the house.
The phone rings once or twice. I donâ€™t answer it.
I sit on a couch. I read a novel. There are â€œget wellâ€ and â€œthinking of youâ€ cards on a side table. The room smells vaguely sour, slightly stale. It can be like that when someoneâ€™s dying.
Across from me, in a rented hospital bed, the woman who owns this house, and who loves the dogs I donâ€™t see and loves the dog I can see, dozes. Medication keeps her pain in check; it also means she spends much of the day asleep. She has cancer. Her sister, her caregiver, had a to-do list of errands and called the hospice for a volunteer to be present in case anything happened while she was gone.
I am the hospice volunteer.
Nothing happens. And yet, in the somber, sour room, thereâ€™s an undercurrent of peace, of the simplicity of compassion. I look again at the crucifix. A picture of the Pope is thumbtacked beside it. I canâ€™t be sure from my position on the couch, but it might be the current pontiff. However, Iâ€™ve visited homes in the 21st century where a crucifix joins the very 20th century Pope John XXIII on the wall, remembered for all the changes he encouraged during his 1958-1963 papacy. Iâ€™ve seen President Kennedy beside a Popeâ€™s photo . . . and Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. Once, I recall Joe DiMaggio.
Iâ€™ve been told the dying woman is a devoted Roman Catholic. But while I sit in her home, I ponder the small â€œcâ€ of the word catholic, which means universal. Catholic as in the whole world around us, where we humans do such wondrous and wicked things. Continue reading →