Yesterday, my bishop shared a link to an upsetting but also moving story about a pair of nonagenarians, married for 72 years, who died within 70 minutes of each other, holding hands in the ICU. The upsetting part of the story is that they died as a result of a car accident apparently caused by the husband, which left the passenger of the other car in critical condition. The moving part, I think, is this:
“It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn’t figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going,” said Dennis Yeager. “But we were like, he isn’t breathing. How does he still have a heart beat? The nurse checked and said that’s because they were holding hands and it’s going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up.”
Her heart was beating through him and picking it up. That is what we do for the people we love. Sometimes, these people are the church, the community of saints who believe when we can’t, who love us when we feel unlovable, who carry us when we can’t walk. That is how Marty Stortz, one of the presenters at our synod’s Fall Theological Conference, described it. She quoted Martin Luther (and I paraphrase):
“If I don’t want to go to church,
carry me kicking and screaming,
and the faith of the communion of saints will lift me up.”
Sometimes, these people are our family and friends (which includes the community of saints, of course). Since learning about my dad’s very shocking and scary cancer diagnosis, I have been lifted up, loved, and carried by your phone calls, emails, wall posts, blog comments, and prayers. I didn’t know a simple two line message could do that. But it can. It does.
Thank you. And thanks be to God.