Sitting here in my husband’s hospital room I scrolled down through some of my past blogs. I was wallowing in self pity because rather than coming home, he’s going to a nursing home/rehab. Old age smacking us in the face? Then I read something I’d written, “The end of life as we now know it is also the dawning of whole new life.” Yes, life is going to be different from now on. Doors are closing, but new ones are opening to all kinds of possibilities. New people, new places, new things, new experiences. “The end of life as we now know it, is also the dawning of a whole new life.

I had also written, “Looking back over the past, I wonder why I fear and resist change when it has always brought so many unanticipated gifts and opportunities, opened so many doors, healed so many hurts. Yes, the known is comfortable and familiar even when incredibly painful and unpleasant. And yes, we never know what lies out there, and it’s human nature to imagine the worst. Yet while change is scary and unpredictable, it also offers so many new and positive possibilities. In spite of my tendency to fall into the pit of terrifying what ifs, truth is, each time we faced what seemed unthinkable and unacceptable at the time, addictions, kids in jail, repeated times in treatment, serious illnesses, the death of loved ones, we got what we needed just as we needed it to heal and move on into God’s open future.”

I am reminded of Step Three and Step Eleven. Turned our will and lives over to the care and guidance of God, as we understood God. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the God of our understanding, praying only for God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.

Those steps have helped me in the past and will help me again as we face the unfamiliar, changing patterns of life. The thing we most feared as a sign of losing our independence, a nursing home, is now the place offering hope and healing. Why is it so hard to trust something good awaits us in the unknown? Why is it so hard to practice gratitude in the face of anxiety and fear of the yet to unfold? Why is it so hard to turn our wills and lives over to the care and guidance of a loving forgiving God? That same God who has always helped us keep going, to do that next thing that needed doing, to focus on the moment instead of worrying about an unknown tomorrow? To see promise in leafing trees, visiting friends, flowers nodding in the breeze, birds singing their, truly caring care takers, the end of the familiar?

Yes, the end of life as we now know it is also the dawning of a whole new life. A wonderful definition of resurrection!

Joyce Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church, author of a 12 step book Steps to Hope, and a blog on Facebook, Steps to Hope @borntoblog.

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