Pastor’s Email Devotion for the week of July 5, 2015 — Cindy Stauffer, Guest Devotioneer

Pastor’s Email Devotion — Guest Devotioneer, Cindy Stauffer
The Week of Pentecost 6
July 5, 2015

In the Library
by Charles Simic

There’s a book called
A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

Toward the end of my mother’s life, she lost the ability to speak but not the ability to hear, see and experience the world around her. In fact, I felt that on some level these senses became more intense, like a blind co-worker I once had whose sense of hearing was so attuned that he could distinguish someone by the cadence of their approaching footsteps. I particularly felt this when I visited with my mother in early May, and took her on a drive so she could see some fresh surroundings, feel the wind on her face and see the world outside the very small one she now inhabited in a nursing home.

We drove to my dad’s grave, past her old house and to some familiar spots downtown but my mother did not seem to be very engaged in looking at those. Instead, she tilted her head back in the seat and fixed her eyes avidly on the sky and the clouds above her. I did not know it at the time but my mother would die less than two weeks later. Still I had an odd sense that day that she was looking beyond this world and into the next. What are you looking at, Mom? Do you see the angels up there? I asked, only half-jokingly. She never turned her head, keeping her eyes fixed on the heavens. Not too many days later, as she was actively dying, the Hospice nurses told my sister and me that when Mom seemed to be looking through us, she may indeed be looking at the “other side,” something we experienced many times during those final days. Mom also held her hand out and pointed upward continuously during one long afternoon two days before she died. We saw nothing but, like Miss Jones in the poem, Mom did. If you see Dad or your family, go, we told her. It’s OK. We are fine and they are waiting for you. Go be with them.

I do not know what form angels take on the other side, if they look like people we once loved who have passed on, if they are clothed in white with eyes of fire and feathery wings, if they are figures that only the dying can see. But I know, from those final days and the ones that followed them, that angels also exist in human form and walk humbly among us every day. The angels I could see included Mercy, Mom’s nurse from Kenya who tenderly cared for her in those final days; St. Peter’s pastors, who prayed and even laughed with us as we shared memories at Mom’s bedside; our wonderful church family, who took us into their arms and helped us to heal; and many friends, who sang to us, played music for us and carried us when we needed their support.

And, like Miss Jones, I also am tipping my head more to listen these days. I can almost hear the whispering sometimes.

Luke 4:10: For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully.”

Dear Lord, Thank you for sending angels among us that we can see, and angels above us that we cannot. Let us feel their power and love, and let us act as an angel to our brothers and sisters here on earth. In your name we pray, Amen.

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Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.