The Final Hour

The family sits on either side of the bed.

The reedy rhythm raises her chest

slightly up, slightly down.

The quiet breathing slows, pauses,

resumes again, shallower now.

Life seeps away as night deepens.

Death dawns, gentle as silence.

This was the final hour.


Around the bed

life gathers and pools

in tears and words

as they tell her story,

the quality of her presence

in dear specific moments,

crowding one upon another

as memories kindle memories.

Each story saying one thing:

“She loved deeply,

she was deeply loved.”

This love illuminates their faces,

eyes brilliant as diamonds

against the black windows of night.

Hours pass and finally the words slow

and they sit in silence.

Standing, they kiss the cold brow

and say their good-byes–

we leave sharing smiles of wonder

that sorrow could produce

such a rich harvest of joy,

even in this final hour.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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