Setting Sail

I've had the honor to be with several people this week who were in labor. Not the joyous occasion of welcoming a new baby, but rather, the final labor. The struggle of birthing one’s spirit into heaven. I've witnessed families and hospice nurses provide the warmth and compassion of seasoned mid-wives as they coach and encourage.

If only we could see what those who are laboring see. The soldier, ending his war with cancer, speaks to his departed mother as if she were right there in the room. A lady whose voice was stolen by Alzheimer’s years ago, looks up from her hospital bed, smiles and reaches for something in the air.

It’s as though they have one foot here, in what we call reality, and another in their future home, their eternal home. If only we could understand that both are equally real.

If only we could see. We wouldn't grieve in desperation and beg them to stay. We would have tears of joy, like those bidding farewell, waving as a ship sets sail for a new adventure and an indescribable, glorious destination.

Yes, good-byes are still sad. Being separated from those we love is painful, often gut-wrenching, but if only we could see with their eyes. If only we could feel what they feel, experience their miraculous new birth. We would truly grieve as those who have hope.

I pray that if you are grieving a loss today, you will feel God's tender embrace as He gives comfort to your broken heart.

Gone From My Sight
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,  
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. 
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone." 
Gone where? 
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" 
And that is dying...
~~Henry Van Dyke


  1. Thank you so much for sharing.
    You have such a talent for writing and seeing things w/ a different perspective.
    This blog post is absolutely beautiful!!!

  2. Labor...I never thought of dying this way before....but you can rest assured that from now on I will have a different perspective....What a wonderful way to look at an event that is so painful as ending in such joy which is so much like physical birth... Hugs to you my friend...

  3. So thankful for hope in the midst of grief. Great post!

  4. This was so beautiful. I was excited to see an update on your blog as I have you listed on my sidebar; my kindred spirit. I too have witnessed this happening as I sat beside many who died right before my eyes. It is a privilege to be a part of it.

    Blessings and love,

  5. Thank you Susan for this- I totally agree with you. My Mum has a foot in both worlds and family members say things like " hang in there, you've still got a lot to live for" but she is so over this life and can't wait to go to the next. i think that we should encourage people to go when they are ready- to release them and not try to hold them back. After all- the place they are going to is far more wonderful than this world, beautiful though it is.

  6. Love your posts, love your insight.

  7. I have liked that story ever since I first heard it, and I believe it is true that others are saying "here she is, welcome" as the ship nears the far shore.

  8. I am so grateful to have meandered over here, Susan, for I am grieving the loss of my Mama (Jan. 30th). Hospice was a part of our lives for Mama's last three months and I am so glad they "coached" me through those precious moments when Mom was here and there. She spoke with ?? She lifted her hand to ?? She did not see me or seemed to wish I would be quiet because something else of more import was happening in a world I could not see or hear. It was truly beautiful. I am glad I was able to allow those moments for her and not be afraid, nor try to bring her into my world then. I miss her, yet I know she is with our Lord and others who went before her. She will be waiting. Yes, she labored for so long, but found peace.
    May you words soothe others, ~ linda

  9. Oh Linda, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you celebrate that your mom's labor is over, but I'm sure the pain of missing her is hard. Please know I will pray for God's comfort that surpasses all understanding.