Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed. Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.
Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.
Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people? In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?
A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.
Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.
Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.
Keep Your Head –
Yesterday, after coming home from worship, I changed from my Sunday best into my “not so best” and went into to the kitchen to make myself from lunch. I grabbed a burrito shell, sprinkled a bit of cheese on it, popped it into the microwave and “viola!” a cheese burrito. While the burrito heated up I picked up the cheese and burrito packages to place them back in the fridge. As I was doing this I dropped the cheese package on the floor. I bent down, pinched it with my fingers, lifted it up and began to stand up. However, I had misunderestimated how close I was to the fridge. As I swung my body up my head came in contact with the edge/corner or the freezer door. “Ow!” It hurt so badly I thought I might pass out for a second. Keeping my bearings I backed away, stood up all the way and held my head as it throbbed. Later, when Beth got home, she looked at it and noticed it was swollen. “You have a nice Goose egg right there!” I didn’t know what birds had to do with my head but I did know I wish I would’ve paid more attention to where my head was at.
We’ve heard people say; “I lost my head!” when they’ve let their temper get the best of them, forgotten something important or have no idea what’s happening around them. Keeping our heads, being focused, in the present moment is essential. Knowing where we are, when we are, how we are doing and what can save us from injury, harm, pain, and Goose eggs.
Love Lost –
This afternoon I sat in a classroom at the local county jail waiting for the men in my class to arrive. At jails and prisons, they’re never on your timetable, you are on theirs. Just outside my class is a phone the residents use to contact “those on the outside” be it family, friends, or others. A man was using his phone time and talking loud enough I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation. He was begging his mom to make contact with the mother of his child and find out if she would bring their daughter to visit him. Apparently, it’s been a while and he wanted desperately to see her, talk with her, be a dad to her.
This isn’t an uncommon scenario for those who are incarcerated. Their freedoms and controls are stripped away. They can no longer go see someone, do something when they desire, but instead must wait and hope that the object of their affection comes to them. I’ve had many dads in my classes who haven’t seen their children since they were incarcerated because the mom refuses to bring them to the jail. There are valid and questionable reasons which inform the mothers’ choice but the father is powerless either way.
Love confined, locked away, kept from its beloved is one of the great tragedies. Love fully blossoms when it embraces, touches, pulls close the one desired. One of the most difficult losses for our incarcerated fathers to accept is the lack of presence in their loved one’s lives. They understand it was their choices which made it so but they also know; “the heart wants what the heart wants.” So, they will keep asking, begging, trying to stay involved in the lives of those whose worlds consist of more than cement walls, metal bars, and constant reminders that love must be stronger than.