Monday, October 17, 2011

Open up

We have this kind of unusual situation in the ward (church congregation) here. There are a lot of people on the rolls who, as newbies of two years, we don't know. Never met 'em. OK, that's not so unusual. The thing is that here, a stunningly high percentage of these folks are on the far end of elderly. So we tend to have a funeral at the church every couple of weeks for a person we don't know.

I am working in the Relief Society (church women's organization) and also happen to be one of the people in the ward who sings and leads music fairly comfortably. So one way or the other I end up being tapped to help out with a lot of these funerals. Which I don't mind a bit, truly. It is a privilege to do some small thing for people, even strangers, who have lost a dear one, whether it's making brownies or serving food or standing up at the front of the chapel waving my arms around.

And I have some experience being involved with funerals. In California, we cherished our friendship with a couple where the wife was a wonderful singer and the husband was a funeral director. When the wife couldn't be there for a funeral that needed music, I sometimes stepped in with "Ave Maria" or something. For a beloved mother whose funeral was thronged with her family ... or a man who died of AIDS-related causes whose family would not even attend his memorial service. It always gave me cause for thought, compassion, humility.

So, today. I got called to open up the church for the mortuary staff, then lead the music and sing "Be Still, My Soul." All good. The thing was, I was singing almost as much a solo during the hymns with arm-waving as the hymn without. I think I saw one person in the congregation whose mouth was moving. And it was not a small group. This woman's family obviously loved her and remembered her with a lot of humor and affection. But whoa, man, once the organ kicked in, stony-faced silence. They were anti-music or maybe anti-Mormon or something.

And I can roll with that. Sure, it's awkward for the lady in the front with the music stand. But of course it's not about that.

Just, when I kick the bucket someday in the far future, please open up your mouths and sing at my funeral.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

My ward used to not sing when I was growing up. It was weird. The bishop finally fixed the problem by stopping Sacrament meeting until people sang.