As you may know I grew up Roman Catholic. I can’t tell you how many rosaries I prayed growing up. As you work your way around the beads (for those of you not Roman Catholic) you pray the “Hail Mary.” This prayer concludes: “…pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.” The “Hail Mary” is spoken 50 times as you work your way around the rosary beads. How easily the word “death” rolls off the tongue when saying a prayer from memory, when you have the distractions of a child, when you are clueless. The older you are, the more experiences you have, the word has a different (compelling) power.
As a pastor I have often spoken about the benefit of discussing end-of-life needs, wishes, and issues with those you love because one thing is certain, you will have to talk about them or deal with them at some time and if they can be approached in a time of calm and strength rather than a time of crisis and weakness, all the better. As a pastor I am also aware of the discomfort such a suggestion can create. But wait (as the commercials love to say) there’s more.
As one who nearly died, as one who humbly confesses laziness, arrogance, and ultimately, stupidity, I did not heed my own (very good) pastoral advice. Carol and I vaguely talked about what we would or would not like in terms of medical treatment in the event of a life-threatening illness or accident; we were in the process of completing a Will and setting up a Trust and establishing powers of attorney; I thought, I’ll have time to take care of this later, “I’ll get to it;” and then, quicker than I could have imagined, I was unconscious and on a ventilator and Carol and our kids were dealing with all of this in a moment of crisis and exhaustion. I do not wish their/my experience on anyone. Keep going.
I share this because every year Rabbi Richard Zionts and I (with the exception of the years I was unconscious or unable I say with sadness and remorse) present a session on End-of-Life issues. Though the notice is late, the invitation is heartfelt.
YOU ARE INVITED
You are invited to join us for this year’s series on Friday mornings–October 28, November 11, and November 18–at St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert, CA (probably in a room [yet to be determined] on the lower level of the church). Each session will begin at 10am and end by 11:45am. The series is free and open to everyone.
One additional note as you consider the invitation: like many of you, my parents are still alive (and aging right along with me). They have been better than me in having things “in order” and communicated to us, their children. I pray that you can say the same about you and your parents. If not, come join us this Friday.
Thank you for reading to the end. I pray that you will be able to join us on Friday, October 28th.