Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Cheerio and The Casket

Death is never something we are prepared for, whether a long standing illness, a sudden heart attack, or a diagnosis of rapid growing cancer. No matter how faith-filled a people we are there is so much uncertainty that surrounds us in those final goodbyes. There is no way to prepare for the absence.

I was recently at a funeral of the mother of a friend. Two weeks ago she had been told that her mother would have 3 weeks to 3 months. How does one even begin to understand the enormity of those words? I wish there was something I could do to ease the pain, but the reality is all I can do is love and pray. Nothing takes that pain away, except maybe time, but even that does not fully erase it. Sounds awful huh? Never overcoming the pain of loss, but I see the pain as proof--proof of something greater--proof of life--and proof of LOVE. Someone recently said to me, "everyone deserves to have someone cry at their funeral." It is a recognition of the life celebrated!

I bowed my head in prayer as the people gathered prayed for the family and the loved one lying in the casket before us. As I opened my eyes I spotted a cheerio left behind on the church floor. Another sign of life--new life. A cheerio can only mean one thing, a child too young to give full attention to the liturgy. This reflection came in that momentary glance from the cheerio to the casket. LIFE.

New life, lived life, the many gathered lives in that church sanctuary. We are all here with purpose, we are all doing the best we can. It amazed me how much life I began to witness during that funeral Mass. Two college girls, completing their first year, so much lies ahead of them. A first year seminarian assisting with the liturgy, the beginning of much service among God's people. Me, starting the next adventure in my own discernment, novitiate. There is also difficult new life, a family starting a new chapter moving on from sudden loss. But the most important life is the new life of the resurrection promised in our baptism. That new life, that woman of 70 some years, mother of 50 some years, and wife of 55 is surely now experiencing.

For those left behind a new way must be found. But while we acknowledge the sadness and loss, let the new life be found in the hope of the resurrection.

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