From the Dean’s Desk… Lent Two – On dying in the LORD: For Karen Beatty

Karen Beatty 2
The LORD will preserve you from all evil and will keep your life.  
The LORD will watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth forevermore.  (Psalm 121:7-8)

I’m writing this on Wednesday afternoon, March 12th.  This morning our much loved sister and friend Karen Beatty died, after a struggle with cancer.  Just last week her status was changed officially to ‘palliative care’ and this morning, today already, she died.  I’ve been sick this week with a bad cough, so I asked our Honorary Assistant, The Rev. Brian Ford, to stop by and anoint Karen and bless her.  He did that, gladly.  Thank you, Brian, thank you!

Some might argue, some do, in fact, that the LORD did not preserve Karen from all evil.  But I believe they are wrong.  Cancer took Karen’s life, took Karen, from her beloved husband, Wayne, and from all of us, and took her far too soon.  This was not God’s will.  It was cancer.  This is a miserable disease which is a real symbol, deadly, in fact, of the brokenness of creation itself:  The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now.  (Romans 8:21-22)

But Karen, the beloved child of God, was and is preserved from all evil, and her life is safe forever, right where she placed her faith all that life long, in the presence of God, through Jesus Christ her Lord.

I visited her a couple of times her first week in hospital (she didn’t make it through the second week, that’s how fast it progressed), and both times, once with her dear sister Marlene, and once with her beloved Wayne, she eagerly received Holy Communion; she was hungry and thirsty for the body and blood of her Lord, hungry and thirsty for his healing presence and the power of his love.  But then, for the Karen I knew, that was not something different.  Her faith sustained her through life, and it sustained her in her dying.

Now we entrust her to God; ‘from this time forth and forevermore’ she is safe in the arms of Jesus, safe in the love of God which is stronger than death, stronger even than our grief, our sorrow, our pain at her death.  We mourn her dying; we will miss her.  But we entrust her with joyful thanksgiving to God, and we embrace her husband, our brother and friend, Wayne.  Sisters and brothers, this is what it’s all about.

Father, I long, I faint to see
The place of thine abode;
I’d leave thine earthly courts, and flee
Up to thy seat, my God!
Here I behold thy distant face,
And ‘tis a pleasing sight,
But to abide in thine embrace,
Is infinite delight. 
(Early American hymn)

Thanks be to God!