An Extra Daily Devotion for Saturday 9th December 2023

Saturday 9th December (Afternoon) Death as Healing and Restoration
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms… and I will come back and take you to be with me 
John 14: 1-2

One of the questions I ask as an End-of-life Doula, is ‘what do you think happens to you when you die? This question is also posed at our Death Cafes, and it provokes a lot of discussion.

As Christians we believe that death is the process whereby we enter the next spiritual realm, a place of healing and restoration, and it is this that gives our faith a framework of hope. Death then becomes the way of how we arrive at our destination, and similar to the birth of a baby, the baby and mother have to endure pain and hardship before the joy and celebrations. For me death and dying is like that, like the mothers in labour, we too hope that our dying will not be long and protracted and we arrive safely through the veil of death. That is our hope, that is our faith.

At present I am supporting a person with a debilitating physical condition, and when we recently talked about death and what Heaven maybe like, the response was ‘I will be free’! As we spoke it reminded me of Hildegard of Bingen, “Thus I will be like feather on the breath of God, the Ruach Eloheim that breathes all Creation, and that includes the birthing into this physical dimension as well as the birthing into the Spiritual dimension through the process of Death.”  Hildegard’s image is one of being released, to be liberated, to be held on the breath of God, to be bound no more by earthly matters, knowing that in God’s care we are safe.

The image of celebration also comes to mind, and a story from Trevor Dennis I heard many years ago, of Gods floured hands. A table is set, food is prepared, the guests are arriving, and everyone has a set of floured hands on their shoulders and back, the closer we get to the threshold of the room, it is full of people with floured hands imprinted on them. The hand imprints are God’s, a sign of welcome for everyone, a sign of acceptance, and sign of arrival, a meeting place around a table brimming with food and hospitality.

I use no theological language at this point here, just imagery, so I can best visualise the coming together of friend and stranger all seated around God’s table.  The process of ultimate healing has begun.   The process of restoration has started.  The process of having all my theological questions answered has begun, and what deliberations and discussions will pursue, but that is for another time.  Until then, live well, do not fear death, and when that moment comes, as it will for each one of us, rest well in the knowledge that the Divine Midwife will ready to embrace you into the Divine light.  

No words, just peace and healing 
No judgement just acceptance and restoration        
Thanks be to God     Amen 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Ruth Dillon is a retired URC minister, member at Glenorchy URC, Exmouth and the Quakers Community, Exmouth and an End of life Doula with End of Life UK and with Dying with Grace, affordable South Devon Doula Support 


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