Eric and I were staying with Grace in hospice. We had been there by her bedside for a couple of agonizing but glorious weeks. She awakened in the early morning hours in extreme pain and asked us to pray for her. (As was ever increasing, some hours the morphine pump every 15 minutes was just not enough). Eric gathered on one side of her and I on the other. We held her hands as we prayed for the pain to leave. Relief from the wretchedly extreme pain was immediate and she laid back against her pillow and closed her eyes. After some time of praying, I looked over at Eric and through gritted teeth I spit out the words, “Isn’t it time yet?” I barely whispered the words but the venom behind them was no less vile. The words boiled out hot from a heart that could no longer bear to see Grace, my beloved child, in so much violent and consistent pain. I spoke, rather hissed, these words across Grace, to Eric as he sat quietly and prayed. He looked over at me, but before he could address me, Grace opened her eyes, leaned up out of the bed and with such peace-(let me explain what I mean by peace. Her body was not tense, just in extreme pain, her breathing was labored but pure, she leaned forward gracefully like cool water gathering itself and turned her head slightly toward me and with calm assurance she spoke quietly and gently) with that kind of tangible and aggressive peace she turned toward her “hissing” mother and answered my demanding and angry question which wasn’t really pointed toward her or Eric.
I had ultimately aimed this barbed question to my God. What was pouring out of my heart was, “When God are You going to do something good here? When are You going to take this sweet child out of this intense and undeserved, never ending pain? When God are You going to show up? When God are You going to answer our quest for a miracle? Don’t You think we have waited long enough? Isn’t it time yet?!” My heart still breaks at the remembering of these shameful questions, shameful, yes, but real just the same. I suppose it is not the question or the intent that reveal my shame. But rather it is Grace’s response that brings such clarity to the stark contrast of my shameful lack of faith and patience with her enduring faith, patience and kind heart.
“Isn’t it time yet?” Her answer to my searing hot demanding and angry question was the cool, quiet release of gentle faith and powerful calm. “No, mom, I think we‘ve got a little ways to go.” My surprised eyes darted from Eric’s serene face to Grace’s tired but divine eyes as she looked directly into my tortured soul. “You don’t think it’s time yet, baby?” I offered incredulously into her sweet and smiling face as I choked back the wave of acid tears seeping from my raw and melting impatient heart. “Nope, I’ve got a little ways yet to go.” With that easily spoken proclamation and a nod of her head, she laid back down, closed her eyes and found sweet sleep. It was a quick encounter, lasting no more than a couple of minutes. But the depth of what transpired in those seconds holds me together to this day. I didn’t just learn, I experienced, regardless of the situation or the circumstance, the truest and most simple form of faith can be found in active and aggressive patience coupled with violent and determined peace. I glimpsed, through Grace, heaven on earth.