Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Memorial Service

Last night was my friend's memorial service. Imagine a service where everyone had the same kind words about the one who passed. Beautiful. No one could have missed the love in that packed room. How could everyone have the same things to say? Over and over we heard he was loving, protective, hysterically funny, kind, generous, considerate, would give you the shirt off his back, would make sure you got home safely. Over and over, as the mic passed from friend to friend, the stories echoed the same words. How could someone be so consistent in character? Are we all that consistent and we just don't know it? I don't know. I've been to more services than I care to remember and I've never, ever seen such consensus about character.

Other things came to mind as the service progressed. There we stood, because it was packed to standing room only, celebrating the life of a man who had few worldly goods. He possessed few things, didn't make much money, didn't have more than a high school diploma, yet the room overflowed with those who loved him. Make no mistake, he did not wear a halo. He could tell a bawdy joke like no one else. Truly, he could make a deaf nun blush. Yet, he had kindness. He loved. He took care of those around him. He was the guy who'd stay up late with the schlub who needed a friend.

So I stood there with my fancy education and my fancy purse and my fancy shoes and my fancy clothes with my fancy car out in the parking lot that would drive me to my fancy house and wondered if my fancy life matters to as many people as his modest life did. I'm not looking for comparisons or for anyone to say I'm loving and loved. Yes, I know my life is important because God gave it to me and my husband and children need and love me. I'm saying it was a moment that convicted me and made me remember that God doesn't ask us to witness with our possessions or our positions, but with our selves.

My friend knew the Lord. He had a personal relationship with the Lord. And everyone there last night knew it. Here was a man with a naughty - and I mean naughty - sense of humor, who was a Christian. He did make mistakes. He didn't always walk the right path. But in the end, when everyone stood around talking about him and when we were asked to share our stories, no doubt lingered in anyone's mind about our friend's relationship with the Lord. It made me think about some of our Christian friends who didn't want to associate with him because he was too rough. And yet, my friend was always welcoming. He welcomed everyone. Last night we heard repeatedly that he never met a stranger. And the roughest in that bunch last night knew he loved the Lord. How about that?

For all of my stuff and fal-dee-rah, would anyone say that of me? What testimony do I live? When I die, will everyone who comes to celebrate my life know that I loved the Lord? Am I leading a life that will resonate goodness? I don't know. And that ran through my head last night as I stood there in my uncomfortable shoes, wishing I could get one more hug from that bear of guy. I wondered, "Am I living a life that will inspire so many people to come say goodbye and celebrate my life?"

I don't know. But I do know that question is now eternally linked with my memories of him. I won't be able to remember him without remembering the many who came to show their love and respect. And it will convict me all over again. And for that, and the way he loved me, I thank him.

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