An Ash Wednesday reflection



Light for the Way devotional seriesWe invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Chaplain Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice

This year, February feels different to me. Well, actually, everything feels different. One month ago today, my father died while I sat with my siblings and cousin in his suite at The Deerfield, telling stories. He was on hospice, and we knew his time was near, but I was not prepared for that long pause between breaths, and then … nothing.

The four of us sat there suspended in time, together in a moment which opened to eternity. The nurse entered the room, paused at the foot of my dad’s bed, and placed her hand on her heart.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

If you attend an Ash Wednesday service today, you might hear these words from Genesis 3:19. They remind us of what is essential – no matter what we achieve or acquire in this life, one day we will return to the earth. This world has some serious limitations, but it is not our home. Our home is in the world to come, a place of unimaginable love.

Today is also Valentine’s Day, which pairs with the theme from my final days with my dad at The Deerfield: love. The teams that cared for him so tenderly — both Optage Hospice and The Deerfield — did everything in love, and even as his dementia progressed, he never stopped knowing it. A few months before he died, he said, “These people do things for me that I could not do for myself. They are kind, and they are good.”

Ash Wednesday is a reminder that our earthly time is finite, and our lives are made of moments. In each moment, we can respond to God’s love for us by offering it back to those around us — residents, co-workers, family and friends. Through acts of love, we participate in the heavenly kingdom, right now, amongst the ashes. This love is the gateway to eternity, to love without end.

Chaplain Jenny SchroedelOptage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel facilitates grief groups across PHS sites and in the larger community. She lived in Hawaii for a decade, before returning home to Minnesota. In Hawaii she worked as Director of Bereavement Services and helped found Hospice of Kona’s Maluihi Grief Center. Jenny is also an author, most recently of Naming The Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.



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