This morning I made my monthly visit to the nursing home to lead worship. Afterwards I stopped to talk with a woman sitting in a wheel chair outside by the front door, enjoying the beautiful day. She told me a story that touched me. She said she had a brother who, in response to the sort of conflict that is not uncommon in families, had chosen to cut himself off from the rest of their rather large family about ten years earlier. This had caused the woman great sadness, and she had prayed to God, asking that she might get to talk with him before he died.

One day at lunch in the nursing home, she sat at the place identified by a card bearing her last name. Upon closer inspection, she was puzzled to discover that the first name was wrong — that it was in fact her brother’s first name. She inquired, and yes, her brother had recently been moved to the facility. She went to his room and found him there quite sick. He did not recognize her at first, but when she told him who she was, he was pleased to see her. He died a couple of days later. He had so isolated himself in his later years, that no one came to his funeral. She was grateful, however, for the granted prayer and the sense of reconciliation that the visit had provided before his departure from this world.

The Good Shepherd is seeking all those who have strayed. The Holy Spirit is working to bring reconciliation of all that has been broken apart. Whether in this life, or the life to come, the mending of what is broken continues. The art of living involves learning to cooperate with the healing intentions of the Spirit.

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