Once a Contemplative, Always a Contemplative

A Transition…

Bishop's 2015

A few times in the past couple of weeks during her going-to-God transition, Michele makes a gesture where she brings her fingers to her chin and mouth, and then lets them rest there for awhile. Her gaze is far off in the distance and she looks consummately peaceful.

Now progressively weaker and completely bedbound, Michele is seemingly betwixt and between this life and the next, her body no longer in service to the vast love that seems to radiate from her. I’ve always know her as a person who resists overly defining a person or an experience, a good lesson for me as a psychotherapist with a proclivity to seek understanding in the belief that this will help me be supportive to another. In the seven years of being her friend, Michele has seemed boundary-less and boundless. In her dying process, I notice Michele as a spacious witness to how the Sacred is meeting her.

As her midwife and prayer companion, I’m drawn into increasing presence with Michele. I sit quietly, whisper a brief prayer into her ear, or drum and hum. Simply follow her lead. She often says, “Beautiful.” Then, the rhythm changes when we need to attend to Michele’s ever-declining body: bathing, sips of fluid, or the exchange of a word, glance or touch. Every moment, I feel that we are embraced in an encounter with Mystery.

It’s been written that we die as we live. Michele’s light-hearted nature and determination continue. In those moments of deep contemplation, when her fingers pause on her chin and mouth, Michele looks, at once, like a child, a scholar and a mystic. Is she confecting a scheme with Wisdom Sophia to die on Thurs, Sept 24, the date of her five-year anniversary of consecration and ordination as bishop with arcwp?  

Thanks to all who are praying for Michele and for us, and for those from arcwp, rcwp and the Heart of Compassion Community who anointed Michele by Zoom a week ago Sunday.  We feel spiritually fortified for the next unfolding with our Michele.

*Barbara Billey, ARCWP