Thursday, May 3, 2007

Praying the twenty third psalm

I just got back from my mentor/boss' mother's funeral, and something struck me as I watched my boss do the ceremony. (Well, besides being amazed that she was able to do the service without completely breaking down-- I don't think I could ever do my parent's ceremony!) Certainly, most of us expect Psalm 23 to show up somewhere in most funeral services-- if only because we like the imagery of green grass and still waters. But the thing that resonated with me today was what an extraordinary anchor that passage has become for almost everyone. As she began to read the familiar passage, I watched as old and young alike began saying it to themselves. Not because they were expected to, because no one suggested that it be a community reading. But the truth of the matter is that that passage will always be community property. As I watched all of these people quietly reciting the cherished words of comfort, I looked around and realized that most probably weren't even thinking of the particular woman whose life we were celebrating today. Instead, they were remembering all the deaths and times of great turmoil that together made up their life-- and the times these words of promise had held them, even when nothing else could.

Though certainly there were several translations, most people were expectedly reciting it from the King James version-- something they had probably been taught as babes, kneeling on a cold floor. Sure, I love the familiarity of those words too-- but when the time comes, I hope someone will read at least the last lines of the passage from "The message", which says "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life."
But then again, the thing that makes this passage such an anchor is the familiarity of the words-- perhaps the new words would not have the same power for a grieving community. There is something to be said for having words that your heart has memorized-- because sometimes, those are the only words you have.


will smama said...

Great reflection. Thank you.
Welcome to revgals!

Sally said...

... and I guess it is at times like this that we need our spiritual anchors the most, thank you for this moving post

welcome to revgals

Iris said...

Beautiful! Welcome to RGBP!

more cows than people said...

lovely reflection. and so true. i hadn't read this Psalm in The Message- that's good stuff.

wow on your mentor doing her mom's funeral. wow. i saw my dad do his dad's and i thought then and think now that that was craziness.... watch it happen to me.

again, welcome.

Kerygma said...

Welcome to RevGals! I still I have another year before I graduate Sem, but I'll pray for your discernment!

Deb said...

Welcome to RGBPs! From another one whose brains are being sucked out (I have two more years of this.. yikes)
but who is keeping a sense of humor in the process!


the reverend mommy said...

Welcome to the Blogosphere!
Nice to meet you -- I graduate on May 14th! Woo Hoo!

revabi said...

Welcome to revgalblogpals from a sister Methodist.