Friday, March 26, 2010

Something Like the Meaning of Life

Today I attended the funeral of a coworker’s husband. The circumstances around his death are super sad as he died young from cancer. I went expecting a somber and tear-jerking affair. What I got was much more touching and meaningful.

The funeral was held at an Episcopalian Church. Fortunately, my Mormon skin did not spontaneously combust as I walked through the doors.

It was beautiful. The simple yet elegant wood design in the chapel reminded me of the inverted boat-turned-church in Moby Dick.

I’m lucky I got there early. There was a huge outpouring of support and I barely squeezed into one of the last available back row seats. I felt sorry for the old ladies and new mothers who arrived late and had to stand against the back wall the whole time. They looked uncomfortable.

As the time to begin drew near, a distinct hush fell over the congregation. Suddenly a booming voice from the rear (that I originally mistook for God) commanded us to stand up. The organ fired up and began playing what sounded like the intro to Pete Townsend’s “Let My Love Open the Door.” But it turned out to be just a really catchy hymn.

The voice of God (which turned out to be the priest) then began his sermon about death and resurrection from the back of the congregation, slowly walking up the aisle toward the pulpit. If I was impressed by the organ introduction, my socks were blown over this entrance! It was all I could do to keep the Mormon in me from dancing a jig on the spot.

The services were heart-felt and heart-warming. The speakers wove a tapestry of memories and humor that made all in attendance wish they had known the departed better.

As the ceremony concluded, the organ piped up again. This time I would swear it was the intro to “Baba O’Reilly” by the Who…but I was wrong again. Just another catchy hymn.

At this point Mormon me had a bad case of the shakes, so as the rest of the congregation quietly watched the priest conclude and exit the chapel I did what any self-respecting, insecure male would do. I stood up, shouted “Mormons Rule!” and fled from the building.

But it got me thinking. What an amazing impact death can have on all of us. One man’s passing becomes a celebration of life that helps break down the religious walls we erect to identify our differences. For a few moments, we set aside the things that divide us to rejoice in the things that unite us. Very powerful.

On a completely unrelated note, what is the deal with fat girls and coats? I’ve never seen a fat girl wear more than an ill fitting, spaghetti strap belly shirt during the coldest of winter weather. Are they impervious to cold? Studies need to be done about this.

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