Through these difficult hours, I prayed for strength and wisdom, for patience and the ability to remain alert and responsive. I was at my wit's end, operating on less than an hour's sleep since the night before; and I wasn't sure how much longer I could continue at this hectic pace.
Suddenly, just before the mucus stopped flowing, I saw her as the presence of Christ. Not simply an "inward presence," but Christ in the flesh. I remembered Jesus' words: "I was ill and you comforted me....Every time you do this for the least of my sisters or brothers, you do it for me" (Matthew 25:36b, 45). In that moment my friend incarnated God's radical identification with humanity. In a flash I became the woman who washed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. I was John at the foot of the cross.
It was not that my friend was suddenly saintly or perfect. I simply saw in her ailing body the Holy before me, married, bonded, melded to our humanity. I was overcome with the sense that this was...a "Godding" moment, a moment when God was being revealed to me not as an abstract concept...but as a tangible reality.
Another presence was in the room with her and me : the presence of Christ. Almost automatically, I began to pray, "Stay here, keep watch with us. Watch and pray." Again in a flash, I saw that I was the presence of Christ to her. She was the suffering Christ. I was the comforting Christ. We were "Godding" each other. In awe, I sensed a Oneness that wove together a trinity of Christs: the real presence of Christ in her ordeal, in my ministry to her, and at the bedside praying with and for us both.
I can never read Jesus' words in Matthew without remembering that holy moment in my dying friend's bedroom. Nor can I ever again doubt the real presence of Christ in our midst : a presence that may be revealed to us by any person at any time, if only we have the faith and love, the courage and humility to see. Who knows when the Holy will burst into our lives, becoming more real than real, surprising us into a deeper knowing?