My Tuesday morning last week was one of the countless reasons I love being a pastor serving a small(ish) congregation:
At 10am, I officiated at the burial of a 97-year-old woman. There were six people in attendance. Four of them were part of a family who were her next door neighbors and took care of her for 23 years—10 of them in a nursing home. It was one of those bright summer mornings when colors seem clearer than usual. We gathered quietly in the cemetery, feeling as if we had the whole place to ourselves. We placed our hands on the casket and prayed for her peace and rest. A mischievous (and/or) angry squirrel dropped acorns on us from the oak tree branch bowing low over our heads. To close the service, a smiling teenage girl played us out with “Goodnight, Irene” on the ukulele and we all sang along (we skipped the really sad lyrics).
An hour later, I was in a hospital room holding a day-old baby girl with a head full of black hair (and at least one cowlick). I held her a little longer than I should have, then gave her to her mother before saying a blessing. Her parents bowed over her and we prayed, alone in the hospital room, with the sunlight pouring in the window. I placed my hand on her tiny head--a hand that only minutes before had been on a casket.
Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End.
Some days I have the best job EVER.