Today I crashed a memorial service. I've officiated at numerous funerals and memorials for persons I did not know, but this is one of the few times I've attended one for someone I had never met. I went with a friend for whom the deceased was a mentor, teacher, colleague and friend. My friend is still grieving the loss of her mother, who died last summer, so I went for support and friendship.
It was the first Unitarian Universalist memorial I had ever experienced. While it was beautiful, poetic, full of music and tribute to this wonderful woman's life, there were no words of resurrection. And I don't mean the resurrection of Jesus. I didn't expect that. What I mean is words of rebirth and hope for those present who obviously were going to miss this person. "Love never ends" was proclaimed several times, but for me it was not enough. What of this woman's spirit; does it not live on in those whose lives she touched, apparently too numerous to count? Isn't it still possible to encounter her warmth, her love, her humor on a daily basis, simply through memory and through the sharing of those memories? All of those persons she nurtured in the art of pastoral care; when they impart that gift to others, is she not immortal? None of this was ever really declared, not with any passion or conviction. Even if we cannot absolutely know that there is a God and be simply humble and awed in the presence of creation, still we can be passionate and convicted in our awe and humility that something has grasped our hearts and minds mightily.
I was left with no question as to who this incredible woman was to this world and that she lived a life well-lived. I was left with many questions concerning this congregation's view of an incarnational universe apart from Jesus. Can we relate to the universe as incarnational without a belief in Jesus as the son of God? I believe so, and it would have lent more power to this service which honored a powerful woman. We celebrated her life; what was missing was the celebration of the life-giving force within and among all life that is always creating, that never dies.