The Bridging Prayer
Some years ago during the Lenten season, I chose to focus on one of Jesus' greatest gifts – the Lord's Prayer. I did this through meditation, journaling, and drawing.
At that time I was a hospital chaplain in the Clinical Pastoral Education program. During my year there I observed the amazing effect of the Lord's Prayer.
- It frequently drew families together around a bedside, sometimes holding hands and with tears in their eyes.
- It often struck a resonant chord in un-communicative patients, including some with dementia or Alzheimer's.
- And, on one memorable night, it became a blessed bridge between life and death, earth and heaven.
The hospital halls were quiet and empty at this late hour. I entered the Pastoral Care Office with a big mug of cafeteria coffee to fortify me during the chaplaincy "overnight." Just as I settled in to do some paperwork, my beeper sounded, breaking the silence.
When I returned the call, the fourth floor nurse asked me to come to the bedside of a patient who was "actively dying."
The elderly man ("Robert") appeared to be asleep, but opened his eyes slightly when I asked to enter his room. He responded with a barely discernible affirmative nod. I pulled up a chair so that I would not be towering over him. Softly, gently, I stroked Robert's hand while giving words of comfort. After about fifteen minutes or so, his eyes remained closed and his breathing became more labored. I asked him if he would like me to pray the Lord's Prayer.
Robert's answer was to take my hand. As I began to pray "Our Father, who art in heaven," his lips moved slightly as he managed to mouth several of the old familiar words. I continued on. At some point along the prayer pathway, Robert died.
What a privilege it was to be with him as he traveled toward Jesus' welcoming embrace. I always shall treasure this spiritual experience and the "bridging prayer" Robert and I shared.
"Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . . ."
From The Rev. Elizabeth Diely +