Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Passing through...

Today has been a mix of blessings. I spent the better part of the day writing the memorial service homily for the father of one my dearest friends. I have known the family since I was in 8th grade - that's 48 years - and am honored to have been asked to officiate and help out.  Now, in a short time, I get to welcome and introduce a stellar home-town boy who is now international pianist playing a concert at our church. 
And then tomorrow, after the memorial service, we leave for two weeks away in Montreal and Ottawa.  Our daughter and son-in-law will join us for part of the fun at the Jazz Festival and that will be a treat on many levels.

Funny how one day can hold so many competing feelings, yes?  Gratitude and grief, celebration and sorrow, longing and rest and everything in-between.  As I prepared and prayed over my writing task, I found myself using a prayer-psalm by Ed Hays called "The Psalm of Passing On."

Such an obscene expression: to die ~
   the polite never utter aloud
such vulgar, grave, dirty words.
   Neighbors do not die, they pass on:
friends and family do not die, they pass away.

"Died" is an ugly period-word
   that ends a sentence.
It closes the door with a slam,
   seals the tomb.
Yet in this "passing on" avoidance
   is found a mystical truth.

For death is the great passage,
   a passing beyond sickness
and the valley of disappointment,
   a passage through the womb of the tomb
   a passage over life's limitations.

Since death is for you, O God of the Passover,
   a voyage of returning,
a joyous triumphant homecoming,
   help me the next time I am told
that acquaintances have "passed on,"
   not cringe, but to smile
and to say, "Ah, yes they have indeed."

I don't think Hays is trying to be cute - just honest.  Death is an end, to be sure, but not just an end in our tradition. In this, passing on is more descriptive and active than euphemistic.  So, off I go to a concert - and then a memorial service - and then a vacation for rest and renewal.  All of it made me think of this tune by brother Lennie...

1 comment:

Phil Ewing said...

Hope you have a great vacation !! Enjoy the rest.
You certainly deserve it. Blessings

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