Monday, July 05, 2010

Necrology

This week I'm attending the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly in Minneapolis. I'm blogging about it on my Monnmouth Presbytery Clerks' Corner blog.

Yesterday was the opening worship service, with several thousand people in attendance at the Minneapolis Convention Center. At one point in the service, it was announced that the Necrology Report would be presented, in the form of a list of names projected on the large screens over our heads.

"Necrology" is an odd word, but to those who frequent Presbyterian official meetings above the local level, it means a report of recent deaths. The General Assembly's Necrology Report is a list of ministers who have died during the previous two years, since the Assembly last met.

Flashing the names up on the screen was a creative way of presenting this information, without having to go through the tedious exercise of reading the list aloud. As we listened to some wonderful music, I scanned the names as each page was put up there, to see if there were any I recognized - any honored members of the older generation.

Bam! There was a name I recognized, but not from the older generation. It was Karen, a seminary classmate with whom I had worked side-by-side for a couple of years after we graduated, when we were both associate pastors. She died in a freakish accident: a burst blood clot in her lung, while she was on a high-altitude hiking trip. By the time the mountain-rescue team got her back down the mountain, it was too late.

Then there was Carter's name. I had never met her in person, but she and I were on the writing team for The Immediate Word, an internet sermon resource for preachers. Every week, we would speak via conference call, as the team planned the next installment. She had died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

In my mid-50s, I'm at the stage of life when I can expect to hear about this sort of thing more frequently - members of my generation who are dying.

I was very much aware of the fact that, with my cancer experience, I could very well have been numbered in that company. What would others have thought as they saw my name flashed on the screen, I wondered?

We cancer survivors have to deal with ever-present reminders of our mortality. To us, they take on a meaning that I suspect is very different than those who have always enjoyed good health.

2 comments:

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CieAura said...

All people will die eventually no matter what cause it. We only got short period to live so we must make the most out of it.