Amid a chorus of memories, fragrant hand-picked lilies the color of sunrise, and the glow of sunshine, I drove across our valley on Monday. I stopped along the way to gather up dear daughters of our King; their decades of seasoned wisdom pouring forth with their words and prayers.
My daughter and I (along with the baby)- the few youngest of the group- participated in the ageless journey of women in honoring a friend’s sacred journey “in the shadow.”
In mere weeks, “Miss Linda” has been caught by the surprise and rapid devastation of cancer (oh, that ugly word). This little, sweet woman, whose 70+ years have graced those around her with the honest grace and abundant fragrance of the Lord, greeted us with a smile rooted in true Hope amid the deep pain of her last days.
Much like the circle of a blessingway, visitors have filled her quiet home in this bittersweet time, calming fears and looking ahead to her “birth” into the glorious eternity of new life with the Father.
We filtered in, with the quiet flutter of our “womanly” tasks, naturally flowing from even the youngest (who was beng discipled in the art of care), with steady little-but-strong hands guiding frail ones to a chair, offering “just a sip” of needed nourishment, fluffing pillows, and the sharing of antique photos, a fragile doll, and stitches of memories.
Lifelong friends circled around, sharing verses and prayers they’ve held close to their hearts. With bittersweet tears, they placed their dear friend into our Lord’s hands.
Meanwhile, I also did the “mama dance” with a fussy baby on that hot summer’s day, and ushered my busy little girl out to the neighboring playground with a snack occasionally to “get the wiggles out.” And those mamas, whose littles are long-grown, understood.
It was a melding of seasons in that little room; a meeting of coming and going, and acknowledging the sacred, preciousness of life.
Celebratory bluegrass-style hymns on a solo guitar, joined by the sisterhood of sopranos and altos, rejoiced in the sweet victory and presence of Christ. Her countenance, once pale, flushed pink with joy, and happy clarity emerged from the bit of foggy confusion that appears in various moments these days.
She has sought to make the most of this short time, in purposefulness. Tip-toeing on swollen ankles, unashamedly pulling out once-hidden canvases, she offered peeks into her heart and history through these works of her art.
“Just one more” song, verse, smile from the baby, a hug from her tiny frail arms swathed in pastel robes and blankets… and the precious hours passed too quickly.
Only two years ago, still full of vibrant health, our Lord began preparing her for a homecoming. She eagerly relayed to me how she had been petitioning Him for women to follow in her footsteps in caring for the hearts of women in our community, knowing her years may be few.
“You’re the answer to my prayers!” she joyfully announced, bestowing upon me her blessing. Oh, the humbling realization of such a role, looking to how she has pointed women to Jesus, and given them the “cup of water at the well;” a purpose that can only be undertaken in His strength and guidance.
In recent months, she has experienced a deep, lonely ache of homesickness, and now, a jewel of a woman is going home. Only our Father knows the day and hour, and so we set our hands and hearts to walking this sacred journey in prayer. It was an honor to know her, to be mentored by her, and to steep in her words of love and wisdom.