Two years ago this summer I had the honor of attending the funeral of my sister's mother. I've got to admit that I'm not much of a funeral person--and I went mostly to support my sister, even though I didn't really know her mother very well and I wasn't close to her either.
There had been some very severe storms in Minneapolis the night before, and trees were down from the 60 mph winds--which made it very difficult to even get to the funeral, which was downtown. We had to travel through some of the worst hit parts of the city to get there, so many people were late.
We arrived at the church a bit early, and went in the front door to be met in almost complete darkness. There was no power in the church. My sister was frazzled and restless because of it (and I heard later that the caterer had not called to confirm the food, so she had to call Byerly's at the last minute to cover the preparations . . .thanks, Byerly's!). The vocalist was late, the organ wouldn't work because of no power, and there were no microphones or lights for the service. The bathrooms were lit with candles.
Entering the sanctuary, there was a very peaceful candlelit feeling, and even though there were no lights, the service proceeded with grace. It was a celebration of life. I heard stories about my sister's mother, a woman I hadn't known, through the eyes of some of her closest friends--and the stories were touching, hilarious, and a tribute. It reminded me how rich each person's stories are, and that we each have a purpose and a place in the sun.
Interestingly, the week before the service--even before my sister's mother had passed-- a panel of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary had been removed for cleaning; these missing windows were the only means for light during the service, apart from the few candles that sprinkled the altar. Coincidence? Well, I don't believe in that, but I wonder if the workers who took the stained glass down for cleaning knew they were doing holy preparation for the funeral, or if they even had an inkling of the gift they gave to the friends and family members who were gathered in honor of this woman I never knew. I wish I could tell them.
What if every deed and every encounter in our lives is a holy one, even if we don't realize it? How wonderful would that be?
It is THAT wonderful.