Monday, August 26, 2013

The Recalibrating Effects of a Funeral on a Friday

On Friday, I went to a funeral.  Occasionally, as a church member, I go to funerals of older people whom I only knew because of our shared church going. Friday night was one of those kind of funerals.

So why did I find myself so weepy? I found myself missing my grandmother and my mother-in-law; I found myself missing people who are still alive. I had that sense that I often get at funerals: "Does it really all boil down to THIS???!!!"

I feel somewhat guilty for feeling that way.  I'm a Christian.  I know that our lives are just a breath of wind.  We're grass--we're here, and then we're gone.  Some large part of me protests.

I shouldn't feel guilty, I think.  It's part of the loving of this exquisite world, God's good creation.

And it's good to remember that in the end, it does all come down to this:  a body returning to earth.  But in the end, it's so much more.

It was a strange service.  The parishioner had gone to a different church, a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, before coming to our ELCA church.  Both pastors were on hand, and both spoke.  A music director who has served both places also spoke.  It all made me think of last speeches, and what I hope people will say about me.

People talked about the parishioner's stubbornness, that if we lived in Roman times, he'd be one of the ones who said, "Bring on the lions."  He knew what he stood for, and he was unyielding.

While I can admire that, I hope that people will talk about my kindness and compassion, when it's time for people to make last speeches about me.  I hope they'll talk about the joy I found in life.  I hope they'll talk about how I convinced everyone around me that we can all be creative.

My pastor made an important observation.  After hearing person after person say, "He was one of a kind," our pastor said, "I hope he wasn't one of a kind."  Good point.

We sang a lot. I wish they had been hymns I like. Instead we sang the one about coming to the garden alone in the evening. We sang "The Old Rugged Cross." It was a blood of the lamb redemption/humans are so unworthy kind of songfest.

It did me think of songs/hymns I'd like at my funeral.  Here's the short list:  "Soon and Very Soon," "I the Lord of Sea and Sky," "Lift Every Voice and Sing," "Canticle of the Turning" . . . and as I made the list, I realized I could go on and on.  So much good music, so little time.

I know it's unusual, going to a funeral on a Friday. It's much more traditional to go to happy hour, after all. I, too, love the relaxation of a good glass of wine at the end of the day/week.
But I do wonder how our lives might be changed if we ended every week by going to a funeral.
It's good to be reminded that we will not be here very long. It's good to be reminded that much of that time has already slipped away. It's good to think about what's important and what's not.
Funeral as recalibration!   Yes, there are many other ways to achieve that recalibration.  But I'm happy for the occasional funeral, the reminder that we are dust, and we're returning to dust so much sooner than we think.

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