Oh, the mystery of things to come. How do you unpack the emotion and admiration that has roots that go 43 years deep? Ronnie continues to decline in Hospice care, but he is slipping away very slowly. His physical body is still here...his heart beats, his lungs take in air, he snores. :) But, his spirit feels far.
What does it look like to be in transition between this world and what is to come? People have written books hypothesizing what that looks like...people who've never actually made the journey. I remember standing at the foot of my father's bed watching each labored breath get slower. Then years later sitting with my father-in-law as he gently slipped away from us. And, there were other relatives who've passed while we've read scripture or sung songs of praise over them...in each case I've wondered what they were sensing or feeling. Were they feeling?
One thing I have felt in each of those moments is a very profound sense of being on holy ground. Holy, holy ground. As my cousin Linda says, "God is good in giving us the grace to live...and the grace to die in Him." How can we know what it's like until we know? But I believe she's right.
God's grace covers over the brokenness of this world and as N. T. Wright says, God speaks in "conspiratorial whispers, of clues and suggestions and flickers of light" all nudging us toward a bigger story. That term "conspiratorial whispers" has glued itself to me over the last few days. I resonate with it. Because, while deeply saddening, this time of remembrance and community has pointed to things much bigger than this current circumstance. It's as if God is whispering, reminding me to pray as Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."
This morning I turned to take the communion tray and for a moment forgot and looked up hoping to see Ronnie. Oh, the longing that was in my heart at that moment for all things to be made right.
As Ronnie continues his transition, stories are told, we've laughed and we've cried. But, more than anything, tonight Brooke, Darla and I sat around Ronnie's bed talking about how THANKFUL we were for his influence...over our kids, over our families, over us. Ronnie reflected Jesus in ways that were not manufactured. He just did what Jesus does...he looked at people and saw them for what they could be and treated them like the treasures they are in the Kingdom of God (whether they felt like treasures at the moment or not.) He seemed to have been given a very Godly perspective. Ask anyone who knew him.
Here's what I know...Ps 116 says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants." I believe that's the holy ground we feel in these moments. In ways we could never understand or describe on this side of eternity, we enter a very thin space where God's presence and his heart are more tangible. I know tonight that this transition Ronnie is going through is precious to the Lord. I feel it in my bones.
While this is a golden oldie now, as Ronnie's physical body lingers for who knows how much longer, I keep thinking about the old worship song "Surely the Presence".
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
I can feel His mighty power and His grace
I can hear the brush of angels' wings
I see glory on each face
TRULY the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I truly feel the power and reality of those lyrics in that hospice room.
I'm reposting this picture because it so accurately captures Ronnie's spirit and the sparkle in his eyes. I love you, Pop! Good night!
To keep up with Ronnie via CaringBridge please visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ronnielorenz/journal and leave a message for the family.