Abide With Me
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence ev'ry passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me!
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heav'n's morning breaks,
and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
This hymn, which is often sung at funerals, recalls the paradoxical nature of life I witness as I minister to seniors and those receiving hospice care.
There is a desire to be with others, and also for time alone.
There are times of sadness, and a desire to laugh.
There are cherished memories, and also hopes for the future.
There are deep existential questions, and also wonder in mundane, everyday moments.
There is a desire to remain independent, and an appreciation for the assistance of others.
There is an acute awareness of the physical, and also a keen cognizance of the spiritual.
There is a need to hear forgiveness, and a yearning to convey forgiveness to others.
There is a need to be loved, and a desire to pass love on to others.
There is a desire to live, yet also a peaceful longing for death.
Lord of every season, who is the same yesterday, today and always, abide with the elderly and the dying, as they bless us. Amen.