Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I went to a funeral today. They are always strange to me. I will freely admit that I'm not always comfortable with death. For that reason I'm grateful to funerals--they bring me up close to something that often makes me a little uncomfortable. They force me to think about issues I don't like to think about. I stare death in the face and wonder.

The great thing about funerals is that I know who wins. I've read the story, and I know the end. I still have my questions, and I imagine I will have them until my end, but even though I have questions I know the story: light triumphs over the darkness of night, even if the darkness doesn't understand it.

At funerals, the two come crashing together. We have the darkness of night and those who are mourning, certain that their lives have more sorrow than they did the week before. There is so little comfort in funerals, despite the fact that those of us who conduct them offer the greatest comfort in the world. The hand of God catching our tears doesn't make us feel better until long after we've stopped crying.

I've sat on both sides of the pulpit at funerals, and I don't know which is harder: trying to explain death or waiting for someone else to do it. Both, I believe, are impossible, and yet we expect it regardless. In death there is mystery, and when faith is the only answer we can give, we will always wonder.

What we see now we see in part, and while one day we will see clearly, I still stand against the window, my nose leaving a smudge, hoping that I shall understand, and that in that understanding my tears will dry and I will beam with joy that God does indeed triumph in the end.

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