Written by Steven Liechty
Amy Jo Jones
"Then our mouth was filled with laughter..." - Psalm 126:2
It was a chaotic environment . . . dogs barking, cats milling around, neighbors laying down new flooring, an electrician repairing faulty wiring, a cluttered house, and at least eight family members and a few friends surrounding this loved one. It was like Grand Central Station. She had asked for "last rites, Protestant style." In this chaotic environment, it appeared that she was truly in her last minutes of life. She was surrounded by love and life.
In the midst of family sharing, her husband recalled the story of his mother's baptism (by immersion), which occurred with many others' baptism—including his own when he was a boy. "When the pastor put the towel over her mouth to lean her back into the pool, he dropped her and she fell in. My mother weighed 300 pounds. The front row of people looked like they had been hit by a tidal wave." All of us burst into laughter to the point of tears as we visualized his mother’s baptismal experience. In this cacophony of laughter, the patient opened her eyes, smiled and laughed.
We stood around her in joy as I anointed her, reminding her of God's delight with her and in her. She smiled in gratitude as a last response.
God of laughter, may we always look for ways to radiate your joy, both in our living and in our dying. Amen.
Amy Jo Jones is a hospice chaplain, living in Beaverton, Oregon. She works at Providence Home and Hospice Services and is a member of First Congregational Church in Hillsboro, OR.