Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fragile - handle with care

This hasn't been the easiest week.
Funeral ministry is part of the warp and weft of bread-and-butter vicaring. 
Always a privilege, sometimes touching, at others almost joyful.
But not this week.
This week has been dominated by 2 funerals - for 3 tiny boys, who never drew their first breaths - but who are beloved and precious to their families and to God.
Placing baby A's little coffin in the ground yesterday seemed almost impossibly hard...but we had planned each moment of his service so carefully together and there was no doubting the love that surrounded him and his parents in the damp greyness of a November afternoon.
The church was almost full - for a baby whom most of us had never seen.

This morning, there were just 4 of us in the crematorium chapel as tiny twins were handed on to God's care - but the feelings of love and grief were every bit as real and intense.
Both days, there seemed scant comfort to offer to parents whose minds were numb with pain, whose  arms were empty.
But I dare to believe that this is not just senseless waste.
That the Love that holds all of creation in being reaches out to touch both these lost little ones and their desolate parents.
I've stood where they parents stand now.
I've wanted to howl at the moon, that one unanswerable question "Why"
I've wondered if this tangle of love and loss, hope and despair, can ever be unwound.
But somehow, weeping o'er the grave, I've glimpsed part of the truth of the fragile treasure that is life - that it is no less complete when it is short - and, of course, that it is no less precious - its loss no less lamented.

Susan Hill, one of the wisest writers I know, wrote of her own experience of this grief in her book "Family",that was a huge resource and comfort to all of us who mourned lost babes. She pointed us, too, towards these wonderful words - which I still turn to when my own fail.

  It is not growing like a tree
         In bulk, doth make men better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear:
          A lily of a day
          Is fairer far, in May,
      Although it fall and die that night,
      It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

                                                                                   Ben Jonson "To the immortal memory..."


Sally said...

Been there and howled, maybe our groans are our deepest prayers

maggi said...

Oh, dear God, yes. Thanks for the poem. Prayers for you K.

zorra said...

Thank you

D said...

And I hope you remembered to make some space for yourself. These occasions are deeply wearying for those of us at the front. Prayers

Dick said...

... and the day I placed by own son of 8 weeks in his grave ...
Thanks for trying to express the inexpressible.