He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away. -Revelation 21:4A major component of my internship with Spiritual Care at the hospital was to have some kind of ritual to "enter in with the patient and their family." I had a hard time coming up with one. For one thing, I was in the ER so sometimes I didn't really have much time between visits and I definitely had no privacy to have a ritual. For another, except for things like the Rosary, I really didn't have a prayer life. The Rosary, even just a decade, was too long for a pre-pastoral visit ritual. Usually, I was lucky just to remind myself of the patient's name and what their presenting condition was.
About halfway through the semester, after being asked a half dozen times to get a ritual, I settled upon memorizing Bible passages. Every evening I'd pack an index card on which I'd have a passage written and between visits I'd work on memorization. This quote from Revelation, found in the second reading this week, was one of the quotes I used.
Someday all of this is going to end. The mother mourning her dead child will hold that child again in God's kingdom. The person with the debilitating, fatal illness will finally feel healthy and whole again. The person born with a severe mental disability will be able to sit down and chat with you. Whatever is bothering you will finally be resolved.
While I wouldn't necessarily share this quote in a pastoral visit, it does give me comfort when I see so much suffering in the world. The person you're visiting might not be able to see that far into the future. Caught up in their pain, they just want their lives to go back to normal now. They don't care about some future world, they want relief now. I think we've all been there. As a part of the staff, I have more of an outsider view. From the outside, it's easier to take the longer view. It's easier to remember as I'm driving home that this is not forever.
This too shall end.
The old order. The society in which disease runs rampant. In which people go broke paying medical bills. In which uninsured can't get care until it's too late. In which car accidents happen. In which people shoot one another. This old order will pass away. Then God Himself will wipe the tears from all of our eyes and we will no longer suffer.
And in the meantime, we got cat pictures!