Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Gift of Love

Where to begin?

It’s been another one of those weeks—very busy, hectic, where it’s been difficult to find time to breathe, knowing I’m doing good things, yet still barely keeping my head above water.

My Saturday was wonderfully healing, though. It was my birthday, which I was able to celebrate with TO and DP (we went to dinner at a friend’s Chinese restaurant—he brought me a candle with deep-fried wontons and sweet-and-sour sauce all around it like a wreath). TO gave me a beautiful book of Celtic blessings—can’t have too many resources for prayer!

But more than that, I celebrated two events that, to me, pretty much sum up my call. In the morning, I married two lovely women—they’ve been together quite a while, and are deeply in love. Even though their marriage has no legal standing where they live, they know that somewhere in the world, it does—one government, at least, recognizes their bond and their love.

And then in the afternoon, I was privileged to be a part of the departure of a member of our larger community. She wasn’t a member of the church, but she and her extended family are our friends. She died after a heroic struggle with breast cancer. I was asked to lead the service, along with a family member who is former clergy. From the beginning, we knew we wouldn’t be having a traditional funeral service--it was not what she would have wanted, and it would not have expressed her soul. So we tried to create a celebration. I like to think we succeeded--many tears, some laughter, much sharing, lots of hugs. I kept thinking, as I looked around the room, that I hoped I would have half as many people at my memorial service who were touched by my life, to whom I had made a difference, whose lives were changed because they knew me. Not because I think I’m special, but because it seems to me that this is our reason for life—to touch others, to help them find healing, growth and strength, and to allow them to express their life-giving gifts through helping us and guiding us to healing, growth, and strength.

The common bond between the two events of yesterday? Lives that touch each other, that heal and comfort and uplift. I think of the Judy Collins song, “Song for Duke,” about the service for Duke Ellington.

I didn't even know the man
I didn't know the man himself
Even though his music filled my life
As it has so many others.

I knew that he had died that week
After fighting death a year or more
But I had had a rule before
That funerals were a waste of flowers

But something said I had to go
To be a witness to his gift of love
A man who never once gave up on life
Until death took him in his tracks.

The people stood around the church
Ten thousand people there they say, or more
Black and white, rich and poor
Together they were there to say farewell.

In New York City it had rained that day
The streets were silver and the sky was grey
But in the church the music soared and sang
And seemed to fill the air with shining sun.

The man was a hero

He played the music of our souls
He knew that we all have in us
A place where beauty always grows

Outside in the streets again,
The people wandered through the falling rain
They waved their hands and dried their tears
And turned to go about their lives again.

But none of us will be the same
If we hear the things his music said
That loving is the gift of life
And making music was his way of love.

The man was a hero
He played the music of our souls
He knew we all had in us
A place where beauty always grows
Always grows.

May you walk in beauty today and always.

1 comment:

Questing Parson said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. -- To experience the depth of your calling.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...