Sunday, October 28, 2007

Journey On

This evening, for the 4th year running, St M's opened its doors to the families of those for whom we've conducted funerals over the past 2 years (who all received a personal invitation) and anyone else who wanted to come. They met for "A service of thanksgiving and remembrance" - something quite different from the traditional All Souls Requiem, with its list of names and general air of heavy solemnity.
People cry at this service, but they sometimes laugh too. Afterwards they share a glass of wine and talk about how they are making their way through their own particular valley of shadow. It's a huge privilege to see the courage and fidelity that keeps so many struggling onward - and the small miracles of hope that each person there represents.


It's a short service...barely half an hour of liturgy and at its climax comes an invitation to light a candle not only for the obvious losses that have brought them there, but also for any other experience of loss or disappointment, a baby never born, a friendship lost or broken...
This year I also offered the option of taking a seed away as a sign of hope - and to my amazed delight it seemed that everyone chose to do so.
We use words so much in the church. I love them - and they work for me - but tonight though my reflection seemed to hit the right note, it was the rituals and the music that spoke the greater truth.
All in the end is harvest.

10 comments:

RevDrKate said...

Lovely reflection and ritual. Just drove back across the state and saw all those bins full and was thinking how not so long ago it was empty fields and faith....so very timely!

Sarah Dylan Breuer said...

What a wonderful invitation you've offered. Many thanks for sharing it -- I wish I was there to take a seed with me from the experience.

maggi said...

Fab. thank you. I am nicking this idea immediately...

cheesehead said...

Filing this away for next year...

more cows than people said...

what a great practice. one of the funeral homes here does something like this around christmas time and hospice does it in the springtime.

but at all saints day... lovely... the past few weeks people have been marking anniversary dates of lost loved ones in our prayer time together. a missed opportunity me thinks...

lorna (see throughfaith) said...

What a beautiful hopeful idea Kathryn.

Purechristianithink said...

What a wonderful worship idea. I sure it will travel . . .

Caroline said...

Lovely idea.

Wish I could have been there.

Erin said...

It sounds like a wonderful service. We did something similar one year at the college where I'm chaplain. We had had 9 students die in 16 months so we did a service on campus and invited people grieving things to come. We named all the students but we also gave people the opportunity to light a candle for whatever they had lost or were losing. We also invited people to write their losses down and we made them a burnt offering and let them rise like incense to God. I've never thought to do this in the parish but may steal your idea for next year.
Thanks!

Songbird said...

I'm nicking it, too!