09 September 2006

Tired and also weary, and yes, those are different things

Today was church cleanup day. I did almost jack-squat, having been commanded by my doctor to take it easy for a couple of days on Tuesday, and having milked that comment for all it was worth to get out of a board meeting among other things. I spent the first three hours chasing my child, making coffee and arranging snacks for the other workers. In the last hour I finally picked up a spade and did some edging interspersed with frequent reminders to Annalivia to not go into the street and because I am a big slug, my shoulders hurt from that scant activity. So I'm tired.
And I'm weary. My great-uncle, Jerry, passed away this weekend and on Tuesday, I'll be celebrating his life by officiating at the funeral. Uncle Jerry was a fixture in my life growing up, part of most family parties and always included in the god-bless song, but I never really knew him as an individual in my adult life. I'm sorry that it is only in death that I'll get to know him.
I am, however, honored that my great-aunt Audrey has asked me to celebrate his life and honored that I get to serve my family in this way. I've shared with other clergy that I'm doing this funeral and I've also shared with clergy colleagues that I have verbally contracted to celebrate the lives of my other elderly relatives when the time comes, including my dear grandfather and grandmother. This tends to freak some of my clergy colleagues out and I get little mini lectures about letting go of control, and allowing others to minister to me in my grief and blah blah blah.
I know that these comments are generally motivated out of concern for my well-being, but I don't seem to be able to communicate how this position of celebrant is such a sacred duty -- one that is, of course, very difficult -- but one that is also very important to me. I have been trusted by my family to lift up our beloveds' souls, to hold forth those memories that refract our beloveds' meaning and personhood. It is what I do in my heart and head anyway. To have that recognized by my family and to have them allow me to do it for them when they are unable to do it for each other -- I see that as a real gift from them.
Anyway, this is the first of these occasions and I am weary from last week's funeral and this week's hospital calls and tired from total-lack-of-cleanup and minor prenatal uterine activity, so I'm praying for strength and stamina to be able to perform this very sacred service for my aunt and cousin and the rest of my family and honor Jerry with the words and emotion they are trusting I can.

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