Gratus

By Kim Long

 

“Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21

 

In our “post-modern” secular driven society it is even more difficult to be, as St. Paul tells us, “in the world but not of the world;” – more difficult to live the life of a believer.

Gratitude… I seldom see it coming. And let me tell you I absolutely didn’t see it this time. It crept up on my blind side and hit me over the head.

The church was pretty full, especially for a funeral these days. The cantor got us on our feet and we began almost with automation, singing the time-worn verses of “Amazing Grace;” its phrases and comforts sealed in my heart since childhood.  I watched as the family struggled down the aisle in varying stages of numbness and raw grief.

As the reader that day I whispered a prayer: “Please God let them hear you and not me.” The Mass of the Resurrection was moving right along. Time now for the Liturgy of the word. The First Reading posed no problem, an easy “two-pointer:” the Psalm, a favorite, sounded fresh on my ears and I seemed to really  hear it for the first time. I chose the Second Reading as a safe bet – a lesser-known passage from Revelation. Looking up I caught sight of my friend who was grappling with the loss of her husband and best friend. I faltered. Glancing up from the text my eyes rested on his daughters. I stumbled a second time. The rest of the words caught in my throat and I breathed deeply. Finishing up, my reading bouncing off the rim, merely passable.

Returning to the ambo for the intercessions, I felt, and not for the first time that day, tears pricking my eyes. Soon I was back in my seat, the song for the preparation of gifts reminding me that God is truly my stronghold and I shall not be afraid at all. And I do not believe I am afraid, but neither am I ready to look my own mortality in the face and if I am honest, for the first time it felt as if we were staring one another down.

The Mass of the Resurrection was at a close. I know from experience that the hardest days are still to come for this family. Those ordinary Tuesdays, “the rest of us barely register” when the casseroles are on the wane and everyone who was full of comfort has returned to work. The house can seem too empty and quiet. Perhaps this is why we lingered, first in the vestibule, then down the steps and finally in the Parish Hall where some food awaited the family and friends.

In the coming days, I will hold this family in prayer and for the first time in my life, I will pray for everyone who is going through this, that they feel the healing touch of God. I am sincerely thankful for the many times I have felt His touch in my own life.

Driving home I thought how gratitude had come into play with this funeral. It wasn’t that I was grateful “it wasn’t happening to me,” for as brothers and sisters in Christ, each death affects us on some level. I was suffused with gratitude that I responded to God’s invitation to the Catholic faith and its particular way of life; grateful that I had taken time from my busy schedule to be present in a small way to this family at this difficult time. I am grateful my path is laid out; that from baptism to the celebration of life in the world to come we are guided by, among other things, the liturgy which I see today so clearly, as alive and breathing life into us.

Behold we are all being made anew.

 

 

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