A Good Walk Home, by Chaplain Michael Mercer
AUGUST 27, 2016
If you are aware that you are in the final season of your life, then you may consider yourself blessed indeed!
It may sound strange, but this can be a gift, for such knowledge may bring a new clarity—the stakes are clear, and the ending point is understood. Like all who came before you and all who will come after you, you will die, and this is no longer a theoretical concept to you. You are actually on the way home.
That means it is time to plan for a good walk home. You have been granted a season in which, by God’s grace and the loving assistance of others, you can craft a fruitful and peaceful conclusion to your life’s journey.
I wrote the book, Walking Home Together for you, so that we can talk about this as friends.
In my daily work, I serve as a hospice chaplain. I work with individuals and their families who find themselves at this stage of life. It raises a lot of questions for them and forces them to think about matters most of us would rather ignore.
I try to encourage them to remember that what they are facing, before death, is a season of life, and that each of life’s seasons has its own path, its own challenges, and its own rewards. The “end of life” season is no different. There is living to be done, and perhaps we should give it some attention since we are all going to have to make that journey.
Last summer, I spent some time with my Uncle Bill. He knew that he would soon be going home because of terminal lung cancer. His wife had undergone some serious health problems and now he was facing this. A sharp awareness that this was his “last go ‘round” set in on him.
Of course, this was sad for everyone. However, Bill did not let the sadness paralyze him and keep him from doing what he could for the future. Indeed, just the opposite! He embraced a new mission, a new assignment for his life. There were new tasks to be completed, new perspectives to be considered, new conversations to be had, new decisions to be made, and new plans to be put in place. He went to work with a vigor that impressed me.
I might also add, there were new fears to be faced, new questions about life and its meaning to be confronted, and new challenges to be recognized and met. I was honored to be included in some of the conversations about those things, and I hope I was able to reassure my uncle and give him a bit of encouragement and peace.
That’s what I try to do, in book form, in Walking Home Together. If you’d like someone to accompany you as you begin this journey, I’m available, and would love to listen and help you as I’m able.