Saturday, January 10, 2004


A dear man in our parish passed away this week. He was very encouraging to us when we first started going to the church. He's been ill during the past year, and I've noticed him on Sunday's in the communion line carrying his bottle of oxygen with him.

The funeral mass this afternoon reminded me that Donne was exactly right that life's end is shared in part by all of us (For whom the bell tolls...). It was a cold day today, and the church itself felt a bit cold in temperature, but it was hard not to be grateful for this person who has left us, to think of others who have died, and to face our own mortality as well.

Partner sang Aaron Copeland's arrangement of Shall We Gather At The River, and the words of this folk gospel hymn were quite comforting. Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry wrote the original song in 1865, and I imagine that he had a head full of the devastation of the Civil War as he penned these words.

Fulfilling the deceased's wishes, there was a party of his family and friends in the parish hall, with helium balloons for the children, food and wine, and pictures of his life.

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