The Welcoming Committee

How do they know in heaven to gather at the gate? How does the word get spread: “Prepare yourself! She’s coming!”

Watchers on this side wonder, “Why is she waiting? What else needs to happen? Is there a face she longs to see – a voice once more to hear?”

Maybe the delay is on that other side. The word has gone out. The committee gathers. “Look! She’s reaching for us! We are almost in her sight! Is everybody here? Yes!” “Welcome!”

By Cherry Winkle Moore, Jan. 1, 2009

I woke up in the new year of 2009 with this poem in my head.

When a hospice patient seems close to dying but doesn’t seem able to let go, it is not unusual for hospice staff to talk with families about what might be causing the patient to hang on. Sometimes it seems that there is one last piece of business waiting to be done: a grandson is arriving home from Iraq or someone is expected to call; perhaps they’re waiting for an anniversary or other significant date.

I’ve been present at times when the family could think of nothing or no one for whom the patient might be waiting. That’s when the idea behind this poem began to form. Maybe the people who need to be at the gate aren’t there yet. Maybe they are busy doing whatever work they do in heaven. They haven’t gotten the message yet. They aren’t gathered.

I expressed this idea to a hospice nurse and said, “I wonder what kind of communication device we’ll have in heaven? Beepers, maybe?”

She looked shocked, “Oh, no! Not beepers! Surely beepers will all be in the other place!”

So I imagine there is some other celestial device that will summon our loved ones to gather when we come near.  I wonder what it is like?

Image of Cherry Winkle Moore
Cherry Winkle Moore

Cherry Winkle Moore is a visual artist and a retired hospice chaplain. Cherry has a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting, drawing and printmaking from the University of Alabama. Later she completed a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in pastoral care. Cherry sometimes says that in her case the MFA stands for Minister of Fine Arts and the MDiv stands for Making Divine Images Visible.

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