I have interesting conversations with my social worker. I never quite know where they will go. When I started seeing him after being diagnosed with cancer, I came prepared with topics. Now we tend to free flow a bit more, although I usually do meander to my head to pull a bit of an agenda together. Some days though, I cannot predict where we will end up. In the most recent visit, I received a precious gift that I have been turning over and over, marveling at what it all means.
We were talking about how the medications I had started three weeks before had given me sort of an out-of-body experience. I disliked how disconnected from myself I was. I have not felt present to myself, others or God in ways that I long to be. That led us to talk about my prayer time. I finally got around to setting up a prayer corner again in my home. I missed having one. I erected a small, altar-like table in my bedroom and pulled out my prayer stool that I carried home from Taize, France decades ago. I placed some meaningful objects on the table–a candle, my striped purple heart stone from the Rock, a cross I bought in South Africa, some prayer cards, etc. When I kneel before it, I find peace. I have had a strong longing to rest in the quiet with my Beloved.
My social worker asked what happened in that silence for me. Instead of sharing a moment from here, I mentioned something that happened while I was on vacation. I had gone to early mass by myself on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi who is a favourite saint. As I sat in the silence of the church afterwards, I closed my eyes and listened. I remembered how silent God was as I sat in the Cathedral of St. Clare in Assisi before the San Damiano cross where I had prayed for over an hour. This time though God had a surprising message for me: you are on your way to Jerusalem. My eyes flew open and I held those words for a moment. At first I was scared and then I realized that there was a joy in that phrase. It was not you are on your way to Calvary. I was on my way to Jerusalem which meant a triumphant entry into a new part of this adventure. I am not sure exactly what that means but it felt hopeful, despite the fact that Jerusalem is where it all changes for Jesus.
As my social worker and I talked, I confessed that I am ready to go. I have not thought much about the end stages of my life yet and what suffering may come, but I do know that I am ready to see my Beloved. I long for that day more than I can articulate but will take each moment here as I am able with the grace afforded me. My belief is that I have seen the beauty of Heaven on this side and I know what awaits me only dimly but I feel freedom because I know I will be with the Creator.
My social worker shared how in a dream once he was reminded of the words of Simeon’s song or the Nunc Dimitis (Latin for now you dismiss) and how it seemed to relate to what I was saying. The aged Simeon wandered the temple and when he saw the Holy Family, he knew that freedom in a tangible way. He had seen his Messiah and he was ready to go in peace now. I can depart in peace, too, knowing I have seen my Saviour. My eyes filled with tears at his words and I hold them now ever so gently. These are the moments I long to have in front of my prayer space in the months ahead. May I use this prayer time well each day to soak in the Divine Presence.
How much time per day do you spend in quiet reflection?
What would it mean for you to be dismissed in peace?
Holy One, dismiss us in peace but allow or eyes to be wide open to witness you here first. Amen.