I’d seen Gwen on the ward the day before. She was in the company of her daughter and grandson, and after a long life and in her late nineties, she had had a stroke and was poorly; very poorly.
I was there at the request of her daughter as Gwen was a lifelong church goer and thought that seeing the Chaplain might bring her some comfort. Gwen was tired but we shared some prayers.
On the second occasion Gwen was much brighter and although she was having difficulty swallowing, she could utter a few words. “Can we say the Lord’s Prayer,” she asked – and so we did. She managed to gasp out the words until we got to the line: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And then she said: “Can we do that; can we forgive others.”
It was a moving moment. Here, in this bed, with her family around her and the end of her life in sight, this lady engaged in a profound piece of theological reflection, and concluded, “I’m only human but I’ve done my best!”
You won’t find that in theological textbooks. It’s probably too deep for the world’s theologians. But here was a woman who had lived a life in which she sought to do good, help others, and serve the Church and her community, giving us an answer. And two days later she passed from this world.
I learn something new most days…and Gwen taught me then. She and her family will not know the impact, and I probably couldn’t put it into words.
I just thought you might like to know.