Monday, May 07, 2007

reflections on a funeral

I was making a short trip to go get lunch today at our local bagel shop (mmm...turkey club sandwich on a swiss melt bagel...), and I was turning over in my mind various things have been stressing me out and causing me unhappiness lately. I travelled several blocks this way and then the traffic simply stopped.

Which, believe me, is rather unusual in a town this size. Even if it had been the busiest traffic of the day, outright traffic stops are extremely rare.

So this particular novelty caught my attention, and I began to look around, trying to make sense of what was happening. There was a police car about four or five car lengths ahead, lights flashing, blocking traffic. An accident of some kind? No. The officer was outside his car, standing at attention, while a fairly long line of cars proceeded to cross from the other side of the street into a local cemetary on my right.

A funeral.

I'm not aware of any particularly newsworthy deaths in our town. But I could tell from just how many cars there were that whoever died must have been greatly cared for, must have meant a great deal to a great many.

It brought my mind back to the death of my father a couple of years ago now, and my heart was suddenly filled with compassion to those who are suffering today. I was struck by how easy it is to get caught up in my own concerns, to forget (or overlook) the fact that deep suffering knows no borders, is shared by young and old, rich and poor, liberal and conservative.

I find that these kind of insights give me a deeper sense of perspective, put whatever concerns I might have in a more helpful context, and somehow make whatever is bothering me less crucial and therefore more manageable.

As the procession came to a close, I drove on to the little bagel shop, pausing internally to pray that God would grant some sense of peace and comfort to those families. I hope that I can keep the lesson their presence taught me today alive.

2 comments:

more cows than people said...

(o)

Diane said...

Steve -- just wanted to let you know that I got your comment and I served in NE South Dakota, a tiny town SE of WAtertown, but north of Brookings ... kind of close to DeSmet.