See how waiting beside a dying friend inspired this man to create something that would help console others.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24
Over the last five days, I have had the privilege and the honor to wait for death at the bedside of a dear friend, along with his wife. In the long hours of our waiting, after he had slipped into that unconscious realm that we could not enter, we held his hand and talked to him – even though we could not know with certainty that he could hear us. His wife and I talked about our memories and about many other things that arise when we humans find ourselves in the presence of the great mystery of our imminent mortality.
Though our conversations were profound and important for our own efforts to deal with the impending loss of such a good soul, silence was our companion too. That silence was not an empty silence. It was full of our own private prayers, our thoughts about God, His promise, His mercy and His love for us. And He showed all that to us through the spirit and personality of this man we both knew. Each of our thoughts were, of course, supremely private. Each of us who waits at the bedside of a dying loved one has an utterly unique relationship with that person, and with God, the One who will receive and welcome him or her in Paradise. There are tears and sadness, of course. That is normal. But there is peace too.
His wife and I began to see that God was giving this long period of waiting for death to us. To help us understand more deeply and personally the mystery of death, and the profound comfort of our faith in eternity. My friend, her husband, was already beyond that. The waiting for death at his bedside became our time to pray. To contemplate the meaning of life and love. To confront, endure and find meaning in suffering and death. And to lean into the limitlessness and comforting hope of our faith – a faith that he had shared with us so nobly and so well in his own life. Both sadness and Joy for our loved one filled that room over those long hours of our vigil.
During one of my watches in the night, I composed the following prayer for my friend. I thought that I would share it so that others, if they wished, might find some comfort in it or some use for it too. It can be prayed at the bedside during the waiting time, as part of funeral services, or at the grave site. It can be adapted and used by anyone who so desires.
Maranatha; A Prayer for The Dying
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus
Take up the soul of our brother (sister), (Name).
Come, Mary, Mother of God,
Embrace this noble soul.
Come, Joseph, you who knew
The Holy One of God,
The handsome child of Mary,
Who held your hand
Who played and prayed with you
Beneath the beams of your own roof.
Take (N.) hand now,
And lead him (her) home.
Come, all you holy saints
Who preceded (N.) into the Heavenly Paradise.
Lift up his (her) soul and carry it
Before the throne of God.
Bear (N.) up on wings of joy
Into the Holy Presence of the Lord.
Lord, welcome (N.) into your Heavenly community.
Let him (her), now, pray in gladness
For all of us who must remain behind.
We ask this prayer in Your name, Jesus.
Amen!SKM: below-content placeholder