I was called to minister to a man today whose frail body lay in his bed but his heart was out in the sunshine in his fields. In the end, it was he who raised me up.
This is the man’s first major illness but he has been told that it is very serious. He exuded calm and gratitude as he reflected on the blessings of his long life — foremost his six decades of marriage and family.
When I arrived he was examining the calf registration cards with his daughter who was accounting for her stewardship!
He inquired about a piece of work we had undertaken in the maintenance of the parish church and was delighted to learn that it is finished.
He is not in complaining mode. On the contrary, he says that he has been blessed in life and he’s grateful to God. He would like to receive the strength of the Sacrament of the Sick and I tell him that I have also brought the Blessed Sacrament so he can receive Holy Communion.
His family sit around the bed and we envelope him in our prayers and the blessing of the Lord. Later I place the Holy Oil of the Sick on his forehead and on his hands. It’s a coming together of the manual work of the man’s life well spent and the saving work of the Lord for him and for all of us.
He receives Holy Communion while his whole being speaks of reverence and blessing. We pause for silent prayer and give thanks.
After the blessing, the chat about the new calves resumes and the challenges presented to farmers by this year’s long wet winter. But he has seen it all before. And he knows that challenges can be overcome.
A neighbour arrives to check in and offer help when needed. I bid a farewell and assure him that I’ll drop in again soon. I drive back across the river feeling blessed that I have had this privilege, been part of a sacred moment in this man’s faith-filled life. He will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.