I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
As a hospital chaplain, the two areas I spent most time in were the Maternity Unit and the Palliaive Care Unit.
As one life was being propelled into the world or as another was ebbing slowly out of it, I was often called to be present, to wait quietly, with nothing to bring except my presence in beginnings and endings.
Sometimes, in the maternity unit, new life emerged in a wail of protest, sometimes it slipped in calmly, with a sense of timeless wisdom.
And, two floors away, death oft times withstood raging and protest and, other times, snuck in with hardly a murmur.
In the ministry to which I am called today, I often find myself tiptoeing through those sacred spaces of life and death, of birthing and dying. And, once more, I am not sure that I bring much more than a quiet affirming presence. And, having learned in the stark corridors of the hospital environment, the value of that calm accompaniment, I seek to focus, not on the impotence but on the vitality of persistent non anxious presence.
As the church struggles with the throes of death and in the places of new birth, our call requires the gifts of midwifery and of practitioners in palliative care, letting go of one way to take hold of another in the calm assurance that the God of all life invites and inspires us to bring about good death and to make room for new life, sometimes at one and the same time.
Unless we are prepared to sit with death we have no right to expect to welcome new life.
Birthing the new requires letting go,of the old and taking care of the tasks of grief as we do that.
Resurrection demands that we position ourselves by the empty tomb, in prime position to witness new life when it comes.
Midwifery and palliative care - skills required in ministry today.