Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
Revelation 21: 1-6
We were in the midst of pulling together dinner one Monday evening earlier this fall when Kate's phone rang. Her doctor informed her that she had tested positive for a rare, incurable, very serious, although likely treatable, liver disease.
A few weeks later, after more tests, deliberation, and prayer, Kate, Millie Lou, and I found ourselves at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. We arrived there late on a Sunday night. Early the next morning, we made our way through the underground tunnels that connected our hotel and clinic to our first appointment. Although bleary eyed and anxious, our fatigue and concern quickly dissipated when we entered the voluminous, breathtaking main lobby of the clinic that morning where hundreds of people were either passing time, waiting, or passing through en route to their appointments, tests, or surgeries.
That space was a thin one. Many in that space had one foot in this world and one already in what's next. Their presence combined with the beautiful physical surroundings made that place one where the separation between this world and God's shores came so close to one another that it felt as if you were catching a peek of what awaits us on the other side of this life.
Morning sunlight poured through the glass walls that extended four stories high and stretched the length of a football field. A magnificent Chuhulily glass installation hung overhead. A woman gently played "How Great Thou Art" on a piano. Many gathered around her. Some hummed along. Others danced as she played. Everyone spoke peacefully and in a subdued manner. Everyone made sure that everyone who needed a place a rest, had a place to rest. People unreservedly embraced and cried and laughed all at the same time.
We received unexpectedly wonderful news up there. Although she previously tested positive for the condition, it was determined that Kate does not, in fact, have the rare, potentially life threatening disease. The best doctors in the country could not fully explain why the disease had disappeared, but they were confident that it had. Thankfully, we left without a positive diagnosis and a treatment regimen, but we took away with us a glimpse of heaven on earth and a reminder of the goodness and surety of the promises of our faith while we waited.
Lord, as we prepare to celebrate the Word becoming Incarnate, may we put our trust and faith in the promise that your Word will come to us once more to make all things new, wholly beatific and completely peaceful. Particularly for those for whom death lingers near this Advent season, may they find hope and courage in the birth of our Savior and promises of our faith yet to come. Amen.