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The unbroken circleHallo again to all.

It is today at our editorial office unseasonably cold and cloudy and wet. It is not one of those days to make us exclaim 'what a great day!' but rather think quietly 'this will be good for the plants in the garden' and 'where did I put my jumper?' When we have a bright warm sunny day, not too cold and not too hot, with a gentle breeze rustling the leaves outside, it's easy to be exuberant about the world that God created.

Today we are not exuberant and the weather is completely appropriate. A dear friend and fellow member of an 'online agapé group', Mary Jane, is probably in the last hours or days of her life. Her daughter wrote:

Well, here we are at Sunday morning. I have taken myself to the coffee shop down the street to get some air while I have a caregiver with my mom. She is still hanging in there. I have become convinced that all I need to do to keep her around a while longer is have one person around her each day who acts likes she's dying. It angers her enough to want to prove them wrong, at least for another day.

The hospice nurse came yesterday, clearly concerned with mother's shallow, irregular breathing and the blueness of her hands and feet. She hasn't been able to eat for 4 days now and is only awake for a few moments at a time and only for a handful of times each day. But the nurse's concern and our priest asking when she would like to have the ministrations at time of death were enough to make her want to get wheeled to her computer to sit in silence with you all. She sat with you all for about 4 hours last night, dozing in and out, but it was clearly where she wanted to be.

Mary Jane is alive, and in that we rejoice, but some day she, like all of us, will pass on, hoping to rest in peace and rise in glory. As we think about her, listening to the old gospel song 'Will the Circle be Unbroken?*' we are intrigued at the justaposition of our friend's imminent passage into the next life with the struggles about sex and power that are dogging the church in this life. Her imminent passage is drawing us to think about the event of death, and what will become of us then.

Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. As we say aloud every Sunday,

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

We cannot fathom that in the life of that world to come it will matter at all where we stood on the issues that people say are 'tearing the church apart'. We must confess that we don't see a church being torn apart: we see people being torn apart because they have differing opinions as to what the church ought to be. In that life of the world to come, drenched in the love of God, we expect that no one will even ask us how we felt about these earthly matters.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 21 May 2006

*We enjoy the Doc Watson variation on this old song; at the moment we are listening to the recording by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, not the hymn by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel.

(Click for an update on Cynthia's cancer.)

A thin blue line
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