Monday, April 7, 2008

The funeral

Photograph by Takaaki Iwabu

I have to write about the funeral for Miss Margaret. It was on Saturday. The AME church was packed. I was honored to be asked to reflect on her life. I did my best to convey in words what a great lady she was.

What I want to say here is that there was an amazing spirituality about the service. It wasn't like the Episcopal church services that I used to attend. I have thought for some time that I was among the "frozen chosen" at those services. But this service was so different. It was a "Homegoing" service. Homegoing refers to the transition the dead make in leaving one world for another.

For one thing grieving outwardly is encouraged. And dancing and clapping of hands in a joyous celebration is encouraged. The choir sang gospel songs and the soloists had incredible voices. There were 12 ministers there and everyone had a powerful message and was an orator. It just seemed that I could feel the spirituality present in that church. My mind was totally focused on what was happening and not on anything else. It was an uncommon moment.

I walked out of that church enveloped in a bubble of peace. I felt that I had witnessed something very powerful. The grieving was outward, obvious and without restraint. It was a ritual, long practiced in this part of the coast. It's as if the funeral anguish becomes a venting of the community's broader grief.


  1. I got many chill bumps reading your post today. Thank you for sharing that experience with us.

  2. lovely. thank you for sharing.
    i find all religious ritual very powerful these days, even if i know nothing of the 'theory' behind it.
    any kind of prayer/ hymm makes me weep. But I have Sponsees with the same sort of reactions so I don't feel too weird!
    Its ? gratitude or something. feeling the presence of my higher power? i don't know. the presence of love i think. whatever, it always moves me to tears. the ? HP is a very 'moving' entity. tears of joy i think. monks sometimes make me weep just by sitting in a room with them. the dalai lama always leaves one feeling very benign.

    Yeah this stuff is weird, but yes, definitely we get to 'enjoy' religious ritual in a WHOLE new way after doing the steps, and opening to a spiritual life. Its ALL good if we go into it with good intentions.

  3. ...sounds wonderfully amazing!

  4. love hearing about an uncommon moment. I just knew there other ways to grieve than silently for 3 days shaking hands. I too want a celebration of life and love. thanks Syd

  5. Funerals in this country are generally morbid affairs, if you started clapping and dancing you would be lynched.
    It is a celebration of the transition to a new life, but no one really believes that do they, at least not the ones of floating on clouds playing harps and stuff.
    I wonder if the universe is 11 dimensional (like I was reading last night) and we live in a 3 dimensional plus time universe it could be the afterlife is in another of these hidden dimensions?

  6. Miss Margaret was blessed and it sounds like your community was blessed to have her for her time. In the Serbian Orthodox tradition we have wailing baba's. Not quite inspiring but definately outward grieving. I like the idea of celebrating a life and a homegoing. Thanks for sharing.


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