On Monday, March 19, I got the call you never want to get. My sister had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room in Dallas and admitted to the hospital. Could I come? I dropped everything and headed north. For the next week our family and friends took turns at her bedside – seeing her through tests, consulting with specialists, keeping watch.
March 27 was Palm Sunday. Aside from being the start of Holy Week, Palm Sunday has a special significance to my sister and me. Both our parents died on Palm Sunday, 14 years apart. When that day came, my sister wanted more than anything to go to the hospital chapel for the Catholic church service. It was heartbreaking to tell her she could not. I struggled to find some way to comfort her and satisfy her need.
Then I saw my computer bag. Inside were my laptop and iPad – a way to bring church to my sister, who could not go to church. ‘Would you like to watch Palm Sunday services from St. John the Divine?’ Her expression brightened, her body relaxed. Yes.
I downloaded the pew sheet to the iPad, opened it, and handed it to her. I pulled up the live stream of the 9:00 am service on the laptop, put it on the bed in front of her, and pushed play. The prelude started and she was transfixed. She followed the liturgy - praying the prayers, singing the hymns, reading the responses. When it came time for the Prayers of the People, she heard her name and started to cry. We listened to that part twice.
Since that Palm Sunday, we have watched Sunday morning services together – she at home in Georgia, me at home in Texas. Last weekend I visited her and we watched together on TV in her living room. From time to time I hear from people who have seen our services online, on TV, or on Facebook who are grateful they could worship with St. John’s wherever they are. I am grateful that my sister could connect to God when she needed her faith the most, because SJD was there – exactly where she was.