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Archive for January, 2015

A Sacred Moment

To anyone driving by that day, those people in the field might have been planting a garden or checking the fence or maybe playing a game. It would have looked for all the world like nothing was going on except a bunch of people standing around. No bystander would know that it was a sacred moment, a time when family members had gathered to scatter the ashes of their father and grandfather onto the field which was his.

The memorial service had long been over. Friends and relatives had gone home, leaving only the immediate family members: two daughters and a son together with their spouses and children. We were there as the ministers, although it wasn’t our presence that made this gathering sacred—what made it sacred was the love and the memories and the celebration of a life lived faithfully and well.

We made a wide circle and one of the daughters brought out her father’s ashes. They were in a bag, just a simple bag. Following no protocol except the need to scatter his ashes, each person took the bag and told something memorable or funny or wonderful about this man, who was as unassuming as the bag in which his ashes were contained. There was much laughter and conversation between those who had gathered there; heads nodding, sometimes tears flowing, everything spoken was a testimony to this humble servant of God. After each person spoke, he or she would reach into the bag and scatter ashes on the ground. The bag grew lighter as it passed from person to person; the last person emptied out the bag on the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; “from dust you were created, to dust you shall return, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Creation and resurrection merged into that one sacred moment.

On the road above, a car drove by as the circle began to break apart and family members headed in the direction of a garden, loved by the deceased. Some walked by themselves, some in pairs, arms around each other; a daughter was hugged by her mother, a brother kept pace with a brother-in-law. We said our goodbyes and as we got into our car, I could see the rhythm of grief and celebration in their steps. What a privilege to be part of such a sacred moment, an intimate expression of thanksgiving for a dear, delightful man whose body returned to the earth he loved even as his spirit rested in peace with the God who loved him.

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