Monday, June 18, 2018

Photo: Let me seek you


Photo: Catherine of Siena

Thanks, thanks be to you, Eternal God. I am imperfect and full of darkness, but you, perfection and light, have shown me to perfection and the way of your Son. I was dead, and you brought me to life.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Photo: Summer Vase


Spirituality: N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for his kingdom in the world ... The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Happy Father's Day

Many blessings on this Father's Day!

Prayers and blessings on all Dads. Thanks for all the effort you give in raising and nurturing our young ones, or children of any age. Thanks for looking our for our safety, giving us shelter, food, and life's necessities. Thanks for your advice and counsel. Thanks for your friendship and words of encouragement.

Blessings to all men whether they be biological dads, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, priests, or mentors. We know not all men are called to be or can be biological fathers, but you still contribute greatly to the care of others. Thanks for the stepdads, the steady voices, the stable partners, or the inspiring teachers of life. Thanks for all who lend a hand.

Thanks for the many women who are single-parents for the maternal and paternal voice you are to children. Thanks for all who make life bearable because you care for us.

Thanks for anyone who increased the charity in this world by your care and concern. Today is our day to honor you. Enjoy.

Completion

On Tuesday, my mother's ashes were laid to rest in the National Cemetery in Bourne, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Alongside her, my sister's ashes were also buried. A remarkable sense of completion and closure washed over me as these two women could now enjoy eternal rest.

It made sense for us to select a June date when family could be present for the ceremony. We prayed the words of committal and witnessed the honor guard to pay tribute to my mother's stateside military service during the Korean Conflict.

We were pleased that most family members and some cousins came down for the service. We found a little cafe at the nearby rotary for breakfast afterwards.

I was very pleased that my sister's ashes were finally laid to rest 19 years after her death. I mourned the fact that I could not pay her respects at a cemetery all these years. I've wanted to visit her on her birthday and her memorial day and lay flowers on her gave. I can now do so.

The whole funeral and burial business becomes complicated recently when families experience different places of religious beliefs. Wakes and funerals have changed dramatically over the years. In the old days, families were of one faith traditions and funerals were made easy, but it is not so these days. Some families today are of mixed faith traditions, non-believers, non-practicing believers, and other situations. It makes conversations very difficult to maneuver where everyone is respected.

Death brings to the foreground both our commonalities and our differences. None of us will escape death, and the death of a family member makes us consider our own mortality and how our funerals will be celebrated.

Many people say, "Don't make a fuss over me. Don't have a wake for me," or words to express a similar sentiment. "I don't want an open casket." "Let's just have a celebration of life."

The words of the soon-to-be deceased are important and have to be considered, but the wakes are for the living. People come to pay respects to the deceased, but they are showing up for the loved ones who are alive and are mourning. The support that people receive from wakes are enduring.

If you are ever conflicted about attending a wake, Show up. You will not regret it. Even if you did not know the deceased well, show up. If you knew the deceased, but not the family, show up.

Wakes are often enjoyable, filled with laughter, full of storytelling and remembrances, and promises to reconnect and get together soon. Wakes are filled with people who will just sit with you in solidarity with your sorrow. Just show up.

Wakes are often filled with ambiguous feelings because of conflicted feelings with the deceased. That is O.K.  That is natural and everyone has those feelings.

We have a saying that we will never speak ill of the dead. That is a very good protocol, but we also want to speak the truth - kindly. People are saints because of the way they lead their lives. We cannot forget the challenges the deceased have sometimes given us, and we don't want to only speak to their good side without acknowledging our frustrations. The trick is to learn to speak about it positively. It is easy to say, "So and so held a dear spot in my life and it was not always easy." This acknowledges the truth of your experience of the relationship and it honors the we, though saints, are far from perfect.

After a loved one's death, we can still talk to the person and hold together the relationship, which continues into eternity. We can still achieve reconciliation or forgive ourselves or one another. We are forever marked by the relationships we have in life and we will deal with our issues until our own death. Our entire work is reconciliation and the restoration of relationships to its loving origins.

If we have not planned our burial plans yet, do so now. Why wait? Some people are deathly afraid that they will not be honored in death. Some people fear that no one will come to their funeral or the wake, so we become self-effacing and say, "No wake. Don't make a fuss." It is not all about you. Get over it. We will honor and celebrate you and share in your sufferings.

Funerals are expensive and the most basic funeral will not cost less that $10,000.00, and that does not include a burial plot, and some people will not put aside any money for funerals and burials. Be thoughtful of where you and your family will be buried. It is scary because it brings up many questions of self-worth, but it is necessary to discuss openly.

Funerals reflect upon the way we live. It calls to mind the ultimate choices we make in life, and the manner by which we value ourselves. They are tough questions. Some people don't think about funerals because they are afraid of death, but it is because they are afraid of living or afraid of the manner in which they are living.

And we are all laid to rest, and rest we shall have. Our loving Creating God will make sure of that. Our job is to live and to show up for one another. We are never going to get all things right but we have a chance to make life better today. I find that consoling. Let's live in the present for the future will settle all matters for us.

Death continues to inform life. Today is a gift that we are to use well. Death is not far off - ever.

Back to my mother and my sister. Rest well, Connie. Rest well, Dawn Mari. Until we meet again...


Photo: Steam and Fountain


Prayer: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it's pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough.... Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.