This Week at St. Stephen’s–May 31, 2015

OPENING HEAVEN’S DOOR

May 31One of the great privileges afforded clergy is accompanying those who are dying and those who attend to them. All pretence and artifice fall away as together we stare into that most mysterious portal of death.

In the days leading up to someone’s passing, things often become surreal. If the dying person has been incommunicative, perhaps even comatose, there is often a moment of utter clarity when they sit up and share images of the afterlife, or conversations with those who have gone before, only to sink back down again … and then depart. Sometimes a word or action by a loved one will evoke a reaction in a dying person who is otherwise unresponsive.

At the actual moment of death, their passing is sometimes accompanied by sudden feelings of calm and reassurance within a loved one in attendance. Sometimes a death will be “felt” halfway around the world by a friend or relative who suddenly “knows” it has happened. And in the days afterward, many people report feelings of inexplicable closeness with their departed loved ones, sometimes described as a “presence”.

Canadian journalist Patricia Pearson has done a great service by exploring these phenomena in her recent book “Opening Heaven’s Door”. She has discovered that, once the topic is introduced, almost everyone has a story to tell. In correspondence with our rector, Patricia has suggested joining us for a conversation on this topic in the fall, perhaps as part of a study group. Any interest? Please let us know.

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