Friday, September 24, 2004

No weddings, but 3 funerals...

"They" told me before ordination that I would "enjoy" funerals, even be good at them, and at the risk of emerging as totally predictable, I have to say "they" may have been right, at least in terms of my personal satisfaction. Being "good at them" is a very different matter, and I'm not sure I even know how you could determine this...except perhaps in terms of how the bereaved are enabled to move on through their journey,- and that, surely, depends far more on the months ahead than on the 20 minute slot at the crem.
Nothing prepared me for the huge variety of situations, even in this thorougly middle-class, white Anglican suburb. In the past 10 days I've encountered one family who had been bullied by the departed for years, and who consequently felt both relieved and guilty; one old man who had deliberately severed all connection with friends and family when he went into a care home 14 years ago, and whose service was attended only by a handful of staff from the home;and, yesterday, a guy who seemed to have the gift of staying friends with everyone whom he had ever encountered.
The only common factor was a lack of any overt Christian committment and a desire, on the part of the mourners, for me to say something to "make things better"...It's kind of heartening, given the widespread secularism, that they are even prepared to hope that I might...on our ordination retreat, we were reassured that we would be given words of power to speak into such situations, and yesterday it truly felt that way.
What an unbelievable privilege!

1 comment:

Tony said...

Oh yes, I couldn't agree with you more. To be allowed into people's lives at a point of such reality, grief and intensity; to be allowed to share what they think and feel about the person who has died, which they do so often with such amazing honesty; to actually (as far as I can tell) be able to help, just by listening carefully and taking the service with reverence and speaking out whatever we've picked up from them as what they want to have said - there IS no other word for it, than Privilege.