Have you ever attended a life celebration where flowers were absent. I have not. Somehow as an essential part of the celebrations of life flowers are ever present. The flowers both on and surrounding the coffin sing their joyous song of hope. Their songs offers to us this message of hope, "As little tiny seeds we were sewn into the darkness of the earth there to slowly disintegrate and die. This death is not the end for us rather it is the beginning of a whole new existence. Ours was not a terminal death we joined the long, long line of those who experience Paschal deaths. We have emerged from the darkness of earthen death to be a source of consolation and joy in our new life. Do you not see how beautiful we are? We however are just the manifestation of the beauty waiting to emerge and be recognizes. This beauty emerges from you depths guided by grace. Therefore, we are a sacrament of hope for you. So believe." As it was for us so it can be for you too. Allow the process of to grieving happen. Surrender to the powerlessness that comes with the dying and death reality. This is the ultimate reality we all have to encounter so, of necessity Mystery will be present. As every step into, newness, on the spiritual path demands surrender to the unknown. Because of that surrender you will know, intimately, a Power beyond all understanding. This Power lies in your depths, it however takes death to awaken our belief in that Power, in that great Mystery. A mystery to be revered not solved. Like all great mysteries, we enter death again and again and always come away with a newer life-enhancing understanding of the meaning of life and also new questions. This is never ending quest. A quest we never embark on alone. Our Gracious God is always journeying in us through us, with and within us.
In every funeral's Eucharistic celebration I use these prayer-full words, "for those who believe, death is not an end, death is a beginning." I have said and hopefully prayed these words countless times in my almost 56 years as a priest. They always speak to me as if I have never prayed or encounter them before. Which of course I have not. I have and always will pray them for the first time for a community I have never encountered before. No matter how well I know the physical reality of those whose grief I share I am meeting them for the first time in this, their new physical and of necessity, spiritual reality. A life being grieved for has ended. It is my challenge is to awaken the hope that lies deep within. This gift we have been gifted with, by our farsighted Creator ,for moments such as these. This hope has become incarnate in the person of God's Son, The Prophet Jesus Who became the Christ. As it was with Him Who as gone before us so it will be for us who follow Him and participate in His Paschal death. In our ever new entrance we exit as a new creation gifted with the gifts that are required to fulfill our Creator's dream for us to be co-creators and co-perfectors of His ongoing going ever evolving universe. What a trust our Creator has placed in us. As we go so goes all creation. Try that thought on for size!!!! Now more than ever!