I want to welcome all of you here as we lay to rest Mary Jean. Gathered on this sacred site we gather to bid our farewell before we celebrate her life with friends. This sacred space will be a hallowed place of memory. A place to come and sit and remember Jean well lived and loved life.
I am reminded here of immortal words of George Eliot, otherwise known as Mary Ann Evans, a woman who had to hide her female identity in order to be published but who paved the way for a woman like Jean to work and care for others. I thought this peace particularly apt given Jean’s love of the choir:
“O may I join the choir invisible, of those immortal dead who live again, In minds made better by their presence; live in pulses
Stirred to generosity.
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn for miserable aims that end with self, in thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars
And with their mild persistence urge our search to vaster issues.
So to live is heaven; to make the undying music of the world,
Breathing as beauteous order that controls the growing sway the growing life of all, we do inherit that sweet purity.”
The sorrow and joy of life weaves a tapestry over our individual lives as death gathers us here today in this blessed community. We have set aside our own lives to bid one we have known and loved farewell. We have come to search for life’s deepest meanings, to seek the comfort of healing we might offer each other and to say yes to life’s greatest expression – love.
At this time we are one with the wisdom and customs of all peoples in all ages. Together here we are in the embrace of an ageless human communion. Though we are few, our strength and our hope is great, for both come from the deep well of humanity that knows that although death must come it is the life lived that is more important. It is in this spirit that we join our individual feelings, varied as they are, into a celebration of Jean’s life and a committal of her life to the hereafter.
Death brings us face to face with life; not just Jean’s life but more importantly our own lives at this very moment. There is an opportunity here for all of us. An opportunity to be reminded that life is for the living, for caring, and for building on those relationships with the ones we love. Death reminds us to move beyond our struggles and our doubts to something greater. Death reminds us to live life again. From this moment on, we can decide that our living and our doing can be more virtuous, certainly more humoruos and more abundant than before. More abundant, more generous, more virtuous, living a life with the same strength of character, disposition and humorous conviction that Mary left us with.
Jean has passed over into a great loving embrace beyond the world we know here. She lives immortally in the lessons and the loyal love she would want us to practice in her name. She lives on, my dear friends in each of us. The truest immortality is that part of her life which remains with all of us here.
Reflection by others.
Our time is done. We come now to let go of Jean’s hand as she lives on in each of us.
Closing Words – “Peace my heart,” by Rabindarnath Tagore
Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.
Jean held the lamp for all of us. Now it is our time to hold her light for the generations that follow.
We will pass on his light to those here. To hold dear and to hold on and to be the change we want the world to become.
Let us pray:
Great Spirit, giver of life and hope, we commend to you now the soul of Joy into your loving embrace. We ask that you care for her as he was cared for by those who knew her and as she cared for them.
We ask that you grant her a place in the great beyond and let her know the love and light beyond the world we see. We know she will live immortally in our memories and in your love. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What comes from life returns again.
Along with the Psalmist we pray:
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Help us winter our grief and with its rains keep us to see the Spring of life we still must live. For we do understand that his was the life well lived and that he will always live in our hearts.
We let go of her hand now and release her into the great beyond. May her memory bring us light and may her skies be blue.
This concludes this service.
For we do understand that hers was the life well lived and that she will always live in our hearts. We let go of her hand now and pass that hand to you in as she sings in the choir invisible. Keep her there in the light and may her skies be blue. Blessed be.
Carrie speaks and sings