When faith carries the pain

>>  Friday, June 22, 2012

It was the funeral for my friend. He was an enormous part of our church and his funeral was testimony to that.

There was a Requiem Mass the evening before. The incense was the same as they use at Walsingham which always makes me feel close to God. I also love it when lots of Priests do the consecration, it carries such energy and at this mass there were nine.

The funeral was entirely Protestant Catholic. 5 beautiful hymns, readings and of course speaking about my friend, committal and burial in the church yard.

It all felt so calming, so healing, soothing, closure. In fact my friend was such a huge part of any ordinary service that it didn't feel like he was missing at all, it felt like he was there with us.

Of course there are tears and hugs but it's like we all knew his ultimate beliefs would have taken him through death without fear. His poor widow, married for over 50 years, is one of the most loving, giving people I know, she will always be strengthened by her faith.  It almost felt like their (him and his wife's) cloak of love and gentleness was still supporting us.

At the wake a very distressed and weeping lady came over and spoke about how she had found the service hard. She said was wasn't the religious sort and people like her didn't want to hear that sort of thing. She was in great distress about our friends passing. I thought it was a shame that she couldn't see the comfort so many of us had there knowing that our friend's faith will have supported him through death and supports us now to deal with his passing. Faith was carrying us for a while.

I simply said at the appropriate moment as she moaned about religion 'well, we all can feel and believe different things'. I so wanted to tell her how comforted I felt, how important the service content would have been to him, how it was just as he and his wife planned it.  It's really hard to say anything about religion without sounding either like you are preaching, trying to convert or just downright sanctimonious and I'm generally rubbish at explaining myself well at the best of times, so I stayed quiet, nodding at the appropriate moments and giving sympathetic looks.

I know so many of you that read regularly don't do religion. I know this post will have a few of you sighing at me but I needed to say out loud how important my faith has been to me over the past few days and how it is the main stay of my life. I am a better person for it and so often the really beautiful (that's the beauty on the inside) that I meet are Spiritual in some way. Maybe not a faith in 'my God', but a calmness of love, honesty, integrity...I'm not sure I know how to describe it.

As far as my experience at the funeral goes it would be obvious for me now to turn to Footsteps in the Sand  but that is about my God. I started to think about If but really nothing describes it better for me really than Desiderata

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.


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