The Blessing of Reconciliation by Reverend Dawn Mayes – I stepped into a room filled with people focused intently on the pale woman lying in bed. Julia’s eyes were closed in pain, and her hands clutched the sheet, as I heard her say, “My daughter, my daughter.” As I stepped closer, the man on the other side of the bed looked at me. “She’s asking for my younger sister, Amy,” he explained. He returned his attention to his mother. “She’s on her way, Mom.”
Julia took a breath, and even though it was hard for her to speak, she wanted to tell me, her pastor, her story. Julia and her daughter had been estranged for many years. She couldn’t remember exactly what started it. Disagreements escalated, resentment grew, until a final eruption of anger separated them.
Julia shook her head. “It seems so foolish now,” she whispered. “All that wasted time.”
Time was something Julia thought she had more of. Julia had been active and energetic, until a small pain that wouldn’t go away turned into something more. Tests, an unexpected diagnosis, and in a breathtaking sequence, she went from hospital to hospice in a matter of days.
Now Amy was rushing to reach her mother—a red-eye flight and a rental car speeding through the morning, hoping to make it in time.
Sadly, as a pastor it was a story I had heard before. Family members separated over a disagreement that, when everything else is stripped away, seems meaningless. At the end of life, the regrets I’ve heard have never been about work or wealth. They’re almost always regrets about relationships.
In the Christian faith, we believe God wants us to live in peace with one another. Scripture says that God removed the walls once dividing people, so we are no longer strangers. God tells us to work for reconciliation, calling us “ambassadors for Christ.” Reconciliation is important in a nation and world that is increasingly divided. Separation between friends and family members is all too common. The good news is that old hurts and past wrongs can be forgiven in an instant. God gives us that ability, because God is the great Reconciler.
Thankfully, Julia and her daughter were reconciled that memorable day, a living example of new possibilities through God. Julia’s story reminds us that no cause or conflict should come between people who love one another. God gives us a spirit of reconciliation, because God is love, and God wants us to live in peace and love with one another.
Dawn Mayes is the Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Florida. Visit the church website. Names were changed in this article to protect privacy.