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Go in peace, you are loved

Go in peace, you are loved, you are loved
Go in peace, you are loved
Go with God, you are loved, you are loved
Go with God, you are loved

The God who wove you in the dark
the one whose rough hands made your heart
had you in mind before the dawn of time
The one who gazed with gentle eyes
at all the colors of your life–
Before the threads were dyed,
the artist saw your life

Back at the house you started from
your God has left the porch light
on however late the hour, you’ll find the way
Oh, welcome, then! back to the light
in from the dark of mortal strife
into the house of grace
where love lives, take your place

Your work is done, you are loved, you are loved
Go in peace, you are loved
Go with God, you are loved, you are loved,
Go with God, you are loved….

© 2007 Katarina Stenstedt

Click here to listen to the song above (click the button that says “Go in Peace mp3” in the upper left)

I have been on quite a journey since I last wrote posted here.  My mother-in-law, Helen, has been declining with Alzheimer’s for several years now and we received a phone call a couple of weeks ago that she was entering her final days.  My husband and I flew down to Sacramento and joined his two sisters, his father, and his aunt, and for five days we sat vigil by her bedside.  We sang to her, rubbed her feet and hands with lotion, told stories about how much we loved her, and waited.  I was continuously aware of how holy this time was. I was reminded many times of sitting by my own mother’s bedside awaiting her letting go into the great Unknown.  It was an intense time, and there were many moments she seemed to be in great physical pain despite the morphine being administered, so we were grateful for her final release.

The gifts and graces of this time were many.  And the sweetness and ache of grief is also there.  She was a woman with an expansive heart who offered love to everyone she encountered, and at 70 she was much too young to die.  My husband has been saying goodbye to her for years
now as she descended into the confusion of her illness.

My heart feels tender, the sorrow over losing another mother is deep.  I have been offered this privilege of again being a midwife among other midwives on that final journey.  And I don’t think anyone who stays awake through an experience like this can help but be changed somehow, deepened even further into life’s mysteries.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
–Wendell Berry

Berry’s words found me the other day and speak to where I am right now.  I feel a bit disoriented as so much has happened this fall.  My body is tired.  I am experiencing the mystery of autumn’s descent toward winter in deep ways.  The call is to move inward and simply rest and receive all that has come into my life.  As I come closer to the reality of my own death I am pressed against my heart’s song.  I need time to listen.  Right now I am in the midst of leading an online retreat for Honoring Saints and Ancestors, so I feel the thinness of the veil keenly these days.  My own ancestors feel especially near, whispering great secrets to me that I will only come to understand slowly over time.  More will be revealed, but for now I simply wait and savor life.

The lyrics to the song above came to me many times during this experience of waiting.  I met Katarina Stenstedt when she came on a recent Awakening the Creative Spirit retreat and then blessed us with this song she had written on our last day.  Music has a way of offering solace that words often can’t reach.  You can stop by her blog to find out more about her and her music.

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5 Responses

  1. Christine,
    My prayers are with you and your husband at your time of loss. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  2. Christine,
    When you were in Mississippi I had just lost my own precious mother-in-law—our other mother, as you said. When you began the Honoring Saints and Ancestors group I was in Florida taking care of her house—-and thinking what a perfect group to join at that time. However the only internet was at McDonalds!

    But I began to do my own “retreat” around honoring her as well as others I have lost. As I make my way through this time of acceptance and gratitude, I am making up ways to accomplish this through rituals. The overnight with you gave me ideas and a way to begin.

    Blessings to you and thanks for suggesting the practice. Still wish I could be doing it with you and others.
    Wish you rest and peace,

  3. This message came at just the right time. My own little abbot, our dog, Sammey, died on Thursday. He had been our guide into living each moment fully for over 17 years, and the emptiness is so profound. The image “your God has left the porch light on” is perfect, and reminds me that I will be joining him in our forever home together.
    Thank you.