Who would have thought that a funeral could bring such warmth and love. It was the nicest one I had ever been to. Perhaps I have been sequestered too long and yet winter is just starting here in Vermont, where snow keeps many locked in and "cabin fever" is a very real phenomena. It was a big town event, and there wasn't a dry eye. Everyone showed up to pay their respects and to comfort the family hit so hard by this untimely death.
The minister was a great uncle of the young man now gone from our midst and he didn't miss anything in his eulogy. He talked openly about all the issues that plagued this young man. How wise he was for the same issues plague many of his friends, no doubt and they were there in great number! There was no shame or blame, but only compassion and open expression of the tragic loss of potential and talent with the loss of this dear young man. It was clear that this boy had touched so many in his few years. I was struck that it was his humanness that spoke louder than any perfection could have.
The pastor encouraged any who wished to get up and speak about how he touched their life and many did. They spoke about him being silly and fun, though sadly he couldn't share his needs as well as he could address the needs of others. I was glad that my chair was right next to a table with a box of tissues and I sat there pulling them them out and passing them as well as attending my own tears and nose. It wasn't just loss but life in this big gathering, with standing room only. It was community, heart and soul, all gathered here.
I was reminded that we all need encouragement to carry on in the midst of losses. The minister was there to comfort and remind us that God is all loving, forgiving and accepting and is sufficient for our needs and healing as we carry on with the life missions that each of us have.
It was not just a funeral message, but an an advent message as well. How easy it is to get bogged down with the holiday season, overwhelming us beyond what is already sometimes overwhelming in the day to day of our ordinary lives. We need to be reminded how precious life is, and to take time to appreciate its gift. We need to reach out and pray and give to those around us. It is love that not only makes our pains and losses bearable but enriches our lives. It is this love that is the real Christmas message that brings hope, peace and joy to our lives.
Again may you rest in peace JP. Your life was a gift to so many!