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Ken VanDerHorst

Over the past 10 years, as  a care giver at All Saints I have had the joy and honor of experiencing moments of the power of love; the power of God – that feeling of profound soulfulness.

And there are those moments when the time and place and circumstance come together in a perfect storm of soulfulness that stand out and have become a part of my DNA. As I listen to my heart they are the moments that spark my passion for this work. I know the same is true for each and every one of my colleagues in the All Saints Lay Visitation Ministry.

One of those moments happened not too long ago. I was called upon to visit a family whose son and brother had suddenly died – inexplicably and with no warnings. The family was in shock and confused. I did not know them. They were occasional visitors to All Saints and they called on us for something to grasp at in this terrible moment.

As I prepared that evening to visit them early the next morning, I remembered the sudden death of my own brother and how I felt at that moment of despair. I wanted them to know how helpless we all feel at that moment; how words no matter how small they may seem at the time are the only resource we have as care givers, in addition of course to hugs and loving touches.

And then – I was there – in their home with people I had never met, ever. Sitting with them and listening to their stories of their son and brother – searching for something, some way to ease their pain. And it came to me that I should let them know that I had nothing other than the shared and universal sense of loss that they did.

We talked of all things, small things about him and their lives together; I shared some words that have comforted me at times, the words of Aeschylus:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget – falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

And then our time together was over – we had for at least a moment, a break in the grief and a chance to be one with the other. I saw them at church several months later; we embraced as members of the human family. It was a small thing in the context of the world’s great tragedies and yet I learned much that day about the power of love and the wisdom that comes only through the awful grace of God.

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