Allegorical personification of Hope: “Hope in a Prison of Despair” by Evelyn de Morgan
A few blogs back I wrote Dying Gracefully. It was about a very special elderly lady who was coming to the end of her life. I have visited this dear friend on many occasions, and on this particular day both the carer and I knew that there would be no recovery, from what was to be her final few days of consciousness before eternal rest.
Much to my amazement, some days later when I visited her again, she was sitting dressed in her day chair wearing earings, and once again capable of holding my hand and responding to conversation. I had the joy of sharing with her, that I was finally going to be received into the Catholic Church, and with the happiest of tears we both delighted. I am unsure now if that is the case. I am so glad she was here for one last spring, and for one last blessing of Easter. The resurrection so vibrant.
I chatted with the carer about my previous visit, we were both amazed. What is it that manages to bring somebody back from the desperate last brink of barely conscious life, brought on by a failing body from the eldest of old age? The carer too couldn’t believe it. She was as sure as I that eternal sleep was imminent. The carer (a gentle lovely indian lady) said that every time somebody came to visit whom she loved, she was filled with a new little burst of spirit. Renewed hope because of Love. So difficult for some to let go despite life’s sorrow. So much hope in Love. Love is strong. That was four weeks ago. On Sunday evening she was finally released. Reunited with her beloved family, now all One in God.
What is it that compels us to keep clinging on in hope?
(Hebrews 6:19) says that hope is ‘the anchor of the soul’. If it is like in the Beatitudes, where it says ‘Christians began to long for the promised land, their souls hoping towards Heaven’ . . . then what is it in hope that restores a Christian, frail, elderly dying lady to life; and not to death more quickly, so as to be re-united with God and her loved-ones, where all hope is fulfilled?
What is it that compels hope to ward off the dire depths of despair? What is it that beckons before us, encouraging us to fight the good fight, to Love through adversity even when we stumble?
What was it that allowed Mary Magdalene to meet the risen Christ? Was it her hope? I think not. I think watching somebody you Love be crucified before your very eyes, kills all trace of hope. Was it her faith? I’m unsure, for faith is surely faithless when the end of the line feels reached beyond all reason, surely at that point all faith and all hope is lost.
I look at my dearest elderly lady who died. I look at my dearest father who died. And I am sure that it must have been Love that allowed Mary Magdalene to meet the risen Lord.
For between life and death Love knows no distance.
And there in, lies all hope.
The Magdalen – Jean-Jacques Henner 1922