This week I am taking a one-credit course at CTU on Bereavement Ministry. I chose this course for no more noble reason than that it allowed me to finish the 24th of a 24-credit requirement for a certificate in Spiritual Formation. And, conveniently enough, it comes seven months after a major loss in my family.
Turns out it may have also been in God's plan for someone else.
Maybe even more than one someone.
Today being our community day, we had a little free time in the afternoon, and I decided to take my class work out to the park and study in the sunshine. I found a table free and set myself up there, book held open in my left hand, right hand scribbling notes. People came and went, the noise level by the "Bean" rose and fall. A beggar in a wheelchair came by, wondering if I had any spare change. No change at all. I resumed my study of the book on bereavement. Then, within a minute or two, a man came over. I had seen him on a nearby park bench, looking toward the Bean. He approached with a kind of shy air, and in a somewhat Australian accent, he said, "I saw your book. Could I have a look at it?" A camera dangled from a cord around his neck as he reached for it. Then he said, "My wife died."
This man was not 36 years old.
He looked at the book, saying to no one in particular, "I didn't know about things like this. Is there a place I can get this?" I pointed up the block to our center.
Turns out he had been his wife's primary caretaker for the four years she suffered pancreatic cancer, and was with her when she died two and a half years ago. He thought he had been through all the stages of grief, but they seemed to have started all over again.
I nodded. We had covered that in class. "They say it's spiral," I said. "It feels like going back to the very beginning, but it's an upward spiral."
I told him a little about our experience with Dad.
He told me more about his wife and the hospice, and then mentioned that right now he was thousands of miles from home and no one in the world knew where he was.
His name is Jason.
I said I would pray for him in a special way.
Funny things happen when you tell God you are his servant.