Pathways through Lent

God’s Kiss

by Alma Paty

Wednesday in Holy Week

Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17 Psalms 55, 74 Philippians 4:1-13 John 12:27-36

A couple of years ago, Spencer Rice spoke movingly about the mystic confluence of each of our births. He told the legend that babies in the womb are given all the secrets of the Universe by God. But, just before they are born, God whispers “Shhh. Don’t tell” and plants a kiss on his finger and places it just under our nose – at the indentation above our lips. That afternoon, I told my children that we all have “God’s Kiss” just above our lips.

Little did I know that this story had a profound impact, as I learned many months later…

Our then-eight-year-old son, Clarke, shared a wonderful relationship with his Aunt Sarah, my father’s elderly sister for whom I was medical guardian. Aunt Sarah lived nearby and we would visit her often. For her ninetieth birthday in February, Clarke and Aunt Sarah sat in the back seat on the way to her favorite Middleburg restaurant. They carried on a lively conversation that can happen only between a lively eight-year-old boy and a ninety-year-old who had led a “lively” life…

When she blew out the candle, Clarke asked about her wish, and without missing a beat she replied, “I wish I hadn’t lived until I was ninety.” Although Clarke was surprised that she hadn’t wished for a toy, perhaps he realized – as we all did — that she was just tired. Tired of being old. Tired of being less mobile. Tired. Just tired.

Two months later, she became gravely ill and we took Clarke to see her at hospice. He saw her in a “deep sleep,” her faced deeply lined but beautiful still. She passed away soon thereafter and he participated in her memorial service. Then our lives went back to a hectic sort of normal, with a newborn baby brother, camp and moving out of our house for an extensive renovation.

So it happened, one hectic fall morning, as we were driving to school, that Clarke piped up out of the back seat:


“Yes, Clarke?”

“I knew Aunt Sarah was dying.”


“I knew Aunt Sarah was dying.”

“Uh, how did you know?”

“She was losing her kiss.”


“She was losing her kiss.”

“What kiss are you talking about?”

“You know, the kiss God gives us right before we are born.”

"Deep Breath" a painting by Melanie Weidner "the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." - Gen: 2:7

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