There is a great song near the end of the musical, “Wicked” that sings:
"I've heard it said
that people come into our lives for a reason
bringing something we must learn
and we are led
to those who help us most, to grow
if we let them
and we help them in return.
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
but I know I'm who I am today
because I knew you...
Like a comet pulled from orbit
as it passes the sun
like a stream that meets a boulder
halfway through the wood
who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good"
The more I work with those who work in hospice, the more I find these words to be true. The song's words and phrases companion me well on many days. And sometimes the whole feels true.
Hallway through the woods.
Many of us find ourselves halfway through Tender days. Holy days. Full and seemingly empty days. Hallway through days.
As Linda and I are raising our two pretty amazing boys – one in middle school and the other high school, I’m daily aware of how important it seems to them TO KNOW things. Details. Answers. Truths. Definitive results. All these seem to be part of their worlds. All these seem to be a way for them to navigate their way through their lives. And most days when I am engaged in this work I am doing, KNOWING seems to matter less and less. It’s not so much a part of what matters for me.
In so many ways, we are all halfway through the woods. All of us. Those in hospice and those in middle school. This is not meant to be morbid or fatalistic in anyway. Instead it is one lens through which I am looking these days.
This song opens with the truth about teachers/ companions/guides/soul-mates coming at the most best times. Folks who have either lived something similar or folks who are loving us enough to share the journey – if just for a bit.
I’ve surely experienced those sharing-journeys folks, and am experiencing them most everyday still. Grace abounds in those moments, when hallway through the woods invites me to stop and pay attention. Stop and take a good, long breath and stretch a bit. Halfway through the woods moments welcome us to focus on what brings joy and love and life. And then start again…
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.