Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My name is Diana, and I’m going to be starting my second year in the masters of divinity program in just a few short weeks. My placement this summer was in Peachland, NC, which is just off of highway 74 between Monroe and Rockingham in Anson County. Peachland is also just 33 miles from my Granny’s house in Mount Gilead, so I was fortunate enough to be able to live with her this summer.

My supervisor, pastor Tracy Carroll, told me early this summer that she thought the time leading up to one’s death was holy time. She is very committed to being with her parishioners when they are sick and dying. She takes the command to visit the sick in Matthew 25 very seriously, and she has learned to see Christ during those visits. This summer, I’ve thought about what she said as I have spent time with Granny. She was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma in March, and her oncologist said she might have six months to live. I have watched her body grow weaker all summer. The vivacious woman that was playing 18 holes with her girlfriends just two years ago is now more like a skeleton draped in its own skin. The hands that crocheted my baby blanket are now shaky and can barely pull her body out of a chair. Her belly that bore my mother is now pregnant with her swollen spleen that is filled with the cancer that is eating her body from the inside out. Her legs that pushed her son’s wheelchair all of his life are now too weak to walk on their own, and now she must ride in her own wheelchair. The color of her skin has been fading, as the smell of death has been growing stronger. I have been thinking a lot about bodies - weak bodies, bodies that die.

Bodies journey toward their death from the moment they emerge from the womb. They begin and end in radical vulnerability and weakness. Yet it was in a particular body that God redeemed God’s entire creation. When our Lord ‘came and dwelt among us,’ He took on a body, a weak body that would die. It seems foolish that God would take on such weakness, but God’s power is not what the world calls strong and powerful. When ‘God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise,’ God revealed that God’s power is what the world calls weakness. The power of God was revealed in a dead and crucified Savior, and Matthew 25 tells us that it is in encountering the weak that we will continue to see this God revealed. Pastor Tracy was right; the time of death, the time of extreme weakness for human bodies, is holy time because we see the character of God revealed in this extreme weakness.

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