Monday, December 12, 2005

December 5, 2005 - Numbering the Days

Mondays are usually my day off, but today I have a funeral to conduct, in a local funeral home. The service is for a man my own age, a former member of our church, who died of chronic liver problems. His wedding had been the second one I’d performed here in this church, fifteen years ago. I had visited him in recent days in intensive care.

I go through the motions of the funeral liturgy. I imagine I’m doing an adequate job – although inside me there is an odd feeling, an awareness that everything is different now.

The timeworn words of the liturgy and of the scripture passages take on a whole new poignancy for me, even as I speak them. As Psalm 90:12 puts it, I am now "numbering my days," in a way I never have before. Will I gain "a wise heart," as a result?

After the service, the father of the deceased thanks me, and expresses particular appreciation for my being there, in light of the news I’d just received. I had made no mention of my personal health situation during the funeral service, and he had not been in our church the day before, when I'd made my announcement. How had he known? News travels fast in a small town.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carl-I wasn't sure if I should be sending my message through this blogger or be more confidential in an email to you but here it goes... As I sat at this funeral you discussed here, listening to your wonderful voice, I felt great comfort as this one time close friend/family member had passed on to a better place. Your words that day were especially comforting to me because this person had passed on and suffered from an illness that he had a part in, he could have done something about it many years before. I was both angry and sad. I was not in church day but over with the kids as I usually am. I dont' make it to as many services as I should or would like to. Now as I read about your disease, I also feel comfort and anger. The comfort is knowing that you will do something about it and take care of yourself, be the receiver as hard as it is because in that way you are taking care of us too. The anger is that it's not fair, as Ben felt, but as we know life isn't fair. But I know you will turn something negative into a positive, just as you did that day at the funeral parlor. The funeral itself was an uncomfortable, tense situation as there were some ongoing deep family conflicts present. But for me, having you there made it 1000x better. You use the term "adequate" to question your presentation that day. It was wonderful! NO doubt about it, it was way more than that- it was great but most of the people, as sad as it is to say, probably "didn't get it."
I feel horrible now as I sit here at 6:30 am reading all of this that I did not know and did not show you any consideration. The deceased that day, didn't do much to help himself or his family or was that God's way of doing things. I don't know but I felt by your words, that he was in a better place now.
I have had numerous visits with the "C" as you say-- which made me smile and laugh and reminded me of my grandmother using the term. I was one of the ones to just keep quiet as I felt then I didn't have to deal with it and it would go away. Luckily for me, it has. The "L" one was close call but blessedly passed me.
I have never told you this but hearing your voice brings "great comfort and joy" to me and I'm sure many, many others too. I feel warmth, like I'm wrapped in a protective blanket when I hear your voice. I enjoy your blessing at the end of every service (actually my facorite part-not because it means the service is over lol) but because it brings such great,fulfulling comfort to me to hear your encompassing blessing. I wish this comfort always for you, Claire, Ben and Ania.