Friday, July 15, 2011

Memorial Reflections

I went to a memorial service for a member of MCC recently. I was asked to offer the invocation and benediction. The family did the rest magnificently, with classical guitar, scripture readings, eloquent witnesses from brothers, a friend of 73 years, children and in-laws.
What emerged out of that memorial service was a real, delightful picture of a man I knew fairly well. He was bright, patriotic, brave (marine test pilot) and adventurous. His faith in God was evident in the varied stories we heard.
I needed to attend that service to listen and not lead. Leading a service often means I'm both the chief voice and the "manager" of the sequence of events, making sure things start and stop on time. That functionality often means I'm thinking about the next thing while the current thing is happening. Yesterday I just listened. And what I heard touched me.
His organizational accomplishments were eclipsed by his relationships. His character dominated is achievements and accumulations. His joy and tenderness outweighed efficiency and progress. What mattered to others was who he was and less about what he did and accomplished.
Yet, when I look at my life and my energy, I spend a lot of time on the details, the structure, and the tangibles, often to the neglect of the relationships (that sometimes demand interrupting my timelines). I think I need to listen to more memorial services.


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