Today I attended a beautiful “Celebration of Life” for a sweet lady who now resides in God’s presence.
The carefully chosen songs and words spoken were filled with love and emotion. More than once I heard phrases like, “never an unkind word” and “found the good in all”. It occurred to me that it wasn’t hard to understand why she was loved by many. She obviously made many feel loved.
After the service, her family and friends reminisced over plates laden with fish and all the expected sides. There were words of comfort spoken, tear stained cheeks, and hugs. There was laughter as funny memories were shared and there was a feeling of family and familiarity that permeated the gathering.
Looking around, I saw faces of people who have known each other since birth or at the very least shared memories for decades. As we shared stories and laughter, I was reminded once again that I am thankful for our small town. Most of the people who were conversing share memories that span at least two generations. We are like a large family, replete with the fussing and fighting and making up. We know more about each other’s business than is convenient. We know family histories, be they good or bad and some recollections are pristine while others are exaggerated.
One thing I have noticed though; when heartache is felt by one here, for the most part, it is felt by all. When my family has been hit the hardest, I have found sincere words of concern, loving arms to hug and hold, warm dishes delivered to comfort and we have felt the ardent prayers for our peace.
When I was younger, I always flippantly voiced my burning desire to leave this boring, gossiping town and never come back. As a matter of fact, my parents did decide to move, the summer after my 9th grade year. Ironically, when the time came, I departed kicking and screaming and vowing that I would never, ever appreciate our new abode. I spent the entire summer making sure my parents knew they had ruined my life.
As life would have it, a few years and many addresses later, I made my way back. I understand why people say they hate it and how they get weary of the drama and gossip. I have been there and I would encourage young ones to spread their wings and fly after their dreams. However, if you find yourself lonely and broken, you might make your way back home again. Yes, everyone will know your story (and might even embellish it), but many will be there to embrace and comfort you.
Today, I was inspired by the words that were spoken. We can be a kinder, gentler community that looks for the good in all. We should never delight in another’s troubles, but in all things show love and mercy. I’m thankful for the sense of community and am reminded that to be a part of a community you must interact. We often find ourselves too busy to care for the wounded and the broken, or even to show up to acknowledge an accomplishment.
This dear, sweet lady may be gone, but today’s look back at her actions and interactions in the memorable life she lived have compelled me once again to re-evaluate my priorities and make sure they line up with my Father’s will. For that, I am truly grateful.