It’s been a week and a day since my family gathered back home for the funeral. As a liturgy buff, I’m not one of those people who says they “hate funerals” – I actually don’t mind funerals, it’s people dying that brings me down.
If I had anything to do with it, this funeral was going to be a barnburner, for lack of a better word. One of the things I find so helpful about liturgy is that it lets us say what we want to say using words that have been used before, so we don’t foul it all up because we are sad. In a situation so devastating we wanted to make sure everything was right – the music, the readings, the prayer of the faithful, the programs. All of these things can help to sum up our belief in the resurrection, in family, and in mercy. The words we use matter.
So that’s my academic, overthought rambling on liturgy. Why was it important, in truth, for me? Because I needed to see that I wasn’t the only person who had been blind with grief for the previous week and a half. Because when I sang Psalm 103: The Lord is Kind and Merciful I knew that I had a chance to say what I believed, to stand in front of people I loved and sing “Bless the Lord, O my soul” and really mean it in spite of everything. It is rare that singing matters so much to me.
Yesterday was the memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the only Native American on the path to canonization. I learned during reflection at midday prayer yesterday that Tekakwitha was the moniker given to her due to her partial blindness, and that it means “one who gropes in the dark”. I can identify with that; and I think most of us can. I have been groping through the darkness of grief with my family, mulling over the wretched questions that we know we can never answer. But day after day I think we all grope through the dark, grabbing onto what we can to orient us, be it liturgy, family, friends, or simple hope.
And it was a very nice and well done service.