It was this phrase I read in John 5 this morning, all those sick people waiting for the moving of the waters at Bethesda, when the phone rang.
The words still turning in my head, the meaning still emerging, and the voice on the phone told me that Jane had died. Jane, my friend, our adopted grandma, our neighbor, that funny little Polish lady–her son told me she quietly passed in the middle of the 23rd Psalm.
I couldn’t speak and said please wait a moment, and the hot tears came and the gasping for breath, bitter tears for myself that I didn’t get a proper goodbye. Hadn’t I just spoken with her on the phone a few days before, ending with, “I’ll be by to see you this week”? My heart had been weighted with the thought for weeks that I needed to get the kids and my mom over to see her soon. Since we moved to the country and didn’t live three houses down anymore, it wasn’t so easy. Bitter, grieving tears.
And then the waiting for the moving of the waters, and as my little son, the one who Jane held when he was a day-old baby, comforted me in confidence with the words that “she’s in Heaven now and all better,” I wondered about these words of John.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “ Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. John 5:2-9
Yes. She waited for the moving of the waters, she wanted to be well, and Jesus came and picked her up and carried her Himself to the healing pool. Now she breathes without all those tubes of oxygen, now she walks without dragging that metal frame with the heavy canister, now she dances a Polish waltz.
Dearest Jane, we love you, and I’m so sorry we didn’t give you a proper goodbye, but we cherish the day for a proper hello on the other side.