Feast of the Ascension

Posted on May 15, 2018


13 May 2018


I hate late night calls.  They are often bad news, maybe always bad news.

Several years ago I received one of those calls from a person I hadn’t seen in five years.

She called to tell me that an old friend had just undergone a 12 hour surgery for cancer.

They had removed all of his lower jaw and part of his upper jaw.

The surgery was so extensive, the cancer had progressed so far,

because he had simply refused to go to a doctor over a year

ago when a persistent sore first appeared in his mouth.

He was an alcoholi

c and didn’t care

I knew him when he was in his prime.

He was an executive for a big company in Minneapolis.

He and the bank owned a big home in a nice part of town.

He was married and had two children.

I used to want to have everything he had, and spent many evenings drinking scotch with him.

He was very good for and to me at a time in my life when I needed someone like him.

He lost his job about three years before the surgery,

a forced early retirement so he could save face.

He got divorced at the same time.

His children now are both divorced and recovering drug addicts.

He lived in a one room efficiency apartment.

As I walked down the corridor to his hospital room I had to ask

how something which had started out so right, could have gotten so wrong.

How he could have gotten so lost.

There is no happy ending to this story.

When I got to his room he couldn’t speak and I didn’t know what to say.

I told him I remembered how good he had been to me.

I told him I remembered his roast pork loin on the grill.

I remembered that he drove me from Minneapolis to Chicago in a terrible

snow storm and we were the only car that didn’t land in the ditch.

And I prayed for him the blessing I often use in this assembly:

“May God send the Spirit of Jesus to go before you,

to show you the way,

Be at your side, to give you strength,

and be beside you should you fall.”

And as I left his hospital room I thought of Jesus leaving and saying:

“Ok guys, now its up to you.  You will do amazing things in my name.”

And I wondered what could have been done for my friend.

What I could have done for my friend.

We are called to do great things, but it seems we are not able to do all things.  There are some tragedies which only the Lord in his mercy can heal.