Shepherd Me from Death Into Life

Paul Palumbo

In the last weeks of her husband’s life, Sandy cared for him, cleaned him, emptied his vomit bowls, and kept vigil as he died at home. During that difficult time, she received a small token of beauty from Lake Chelan Lutheran Church: a painted card with the words of the refrain, “Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.”

It became a lifeline for her. She put that card on the table where she could see it every time she went to empty the bowl or to get a glass of ice chips for her dying husband. It steadied her with the reminder to give her fears to God. Cards like that have become an element of the Liturgy for the Visitation of the Dying that we share with church members and others.

When her husband died, we anointed his body and sang that same refrain as we made the cross on his forehead, lips, eyes, and heart. More reassurance.

Now that she is a widow and her financial future is not clear, she keeps that card in her checkbook. It is a constant reminder to wait for God to guide her beyond her wants and fears, into life: a small token of beauty.