A Grace Returned

By Anonymous February 11, 2010

When their son died unexpectedly, Joseph and Mary Lou Bayly received comfort and help from a poem sent to them by the young woman their son loved and planned to marry. The poem was "New Year, 1945," written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, imprisoned by the Nazis, had written the poem for his fiancée—just three months before he was executed.

Then, thirty years after Bonhoeffer's death and 12 years after their son's—Joe and Mary Lou received a letter from a young Massachusetts pastor. He told of frequently visiting a woman seriously ill in a Boston hospital, and one day giving her Joe Bayly's book, Heaven. The next day the woman told the pastor that she had stayed awake late the previous night to read it, and told of the comfort and help she had received from it. Shortly afterward she died.

The woman, the pastor added, had emigrated from Germany after World War II. She was Dietrich Bonhoeffer's fiancée.