Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holly's Funeral Sermon

Holly’s Funeral Sermon

Can anyone here recall Holly ever referring to any of her children without a wide smile of affectionate pride? I didn’t think so.

I want to discuss our two tasks with you, those of us for whom missing Holly will be a daily misery.

First: We are here to give God permission to have Holly. Not that God needs our permission – Holly was God’s idea a long time before she was ours. But we need to give it.

When we lose somebody, our brains automatically draft a lot of energy constructing a model of her and keeping it vivid, as though it were up to us to keep her alive in our hearts. Remarkably soon details start slipping – we realize to our horror that some element is going out of focus. It’s as though we’re letting her down, failing to keep her alive.

So our first task is to give God permission to hold her on our behalf. This morning’s ceremony is designed to allow us to do that: to return Holly to God. She has always been God’s idea and always will be. That is her permanence, not our faulty memories. And as we yield to that, being able to summon her memory will be as though she’s in the next room.

Second, with Holly no longer physically available to us, it’s time to locate, catalogue, and employ all the gifts she left us.

The chief location of those gifts is within ourselves. After all, the things we admire in others are our own undeveloped characteristics.

When we come upon one of the notes she’d send us with the little heart just above her name, send one. In time, people will associate that sort of thoughtfulness with you.

When we miss her wit, we can explore – and offer to others – a more nimble joyous use of English.

The next time you feel awkward moving into a social situation, recall Holly’s stately graceful poise, like a frigate under full sail. That charm will be your own.  You’ll find yourself relaxing and maybe even laughing as she did so generously.

Recall how in any discussion Holly would leap to the contrary side, only joining the rest of us in deeper exploration once she’d made her point: that things are never simply one-sided. When we hear ourselves raising our apodictic voices in presenting some firm opinion, we can let our internal Holly remind us to take it down a notch.

When we recall with awe her passionate pursuit of economic justice for poor people – poor people, mind you, not ‘the poor,’ that abstraction we use when we want to be thought of as caring for poor people when we really don’t -- feel the stirring to search out your own projects; you’ll find them as life-giving as she did.  

When did you last read, memorize – or indeed write -- a poem? Since you love and appreciate Holly, you could surprise yourself – and sense her grin in the room with you.

When we miss her sensuousness (not the same as sensuality – look ‘em up), her love of kitchen aromas, the taste of a great wine or salad dressing, her delight in the visually beautiful, cultivate your own physical mindfulness: wake up to your surroundings.

In this way, Holly’s essence will be around us all the time. Imagine a future in which you accomplish even some of that. That would be her affectionate parting gift. That would be a future worth inhabiting.

In summary: entrusting Holly to the unending safety of God’s affection, take full ownership of all the gifts she embodied and extended to us – and live them out to your life’s very end, as she did.


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