I had a friend who would sign off her letters to me with “Until the word of your life be fully spoken…” I did not know that I would walk her to the final week of her life, bringing her the Eucharist at her home when she was too sick to come to mass any more. I have just finally taken a quiet moment to ready Kayla Jean Mueller’s final letter to her family. Those words move me deeply, as I knew they would. They were the words of her life fully spoken. Mueller, an American humanitarian aid worker captured by ISIS, died in captivity. She managed to smuggle out a heart-wrenching letter to her family, bearing her tremendous guilt for causing them such grief and sharing wisdom well beyond her 26 years.
She found great joy in the work that she did and I understand that. It might not always make sense to others who do not understand that deep desire to serve God and put their lives second to that vocation. From an early age, I marveled at the ones who gave their lives for the Kingdom–Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Romero, Jean Donovan, and so many others in that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. We know those names, but I know that the villages of Rwanda, the forests of eastern Congo, the torture cells in South Africa, and the corn fields of Guatemala hold nameless saints and martyrs. I could not hear her story until I could find a quiet time to listen to it with the respect it deserved.
The words of this woman’s life have to bless those who read them. She came to rely solely on God, seeing good in every situation, including her current one presumably. She owns her decision, and I almost taste her tears when she tells her family not to forgive her and struggles with the pain she has caused them. A brave and beautiful confession and admission of whose she was is sketched out by her words. God came first but family and loved ones were a very close second.
Her gratitude for the gift of her life spills out. Her thankfulness for those who have held her in her free fall into God’s hands is powerful. We do not come into this world alone. We are all connected. We impact one another’s lives in ways that we may never know. This woman wrote in bold, colourful letters that sprawled across the page of her life who she was at her core. Truly after only a quarter of a century, the word of her life was fully spoken, even if it was a short story and not a lengthy tale.
What do the words of your life look like right now? Are they what you want to leave when all has been said and done?