From my back row pew in the massive Catholic Church, I turned to see if the mourners for the 20 year-old and her coffin were coming up the front steps. It wasn’t quite time, but the open front door was a portal to a gloomy drizzling day and a hearse surrounded by men in black raincoats.
Just then, a large garbage truck was turning right behind the stretch limo. This juxtaposition immediately brought to mind something of my own funeral. Life will go on. Garbagemen will be working while my family and friends are grieving. The traffic light that allowed the garbage truck to turn will be right on schedule. The school next door will take attendance and say “The Pledge of Allegiance.” And all the attendees at my service will have to rush back to work.
It’s difficult to picture life here without ourselves because it’s all we’ve ever known; all we ever could know.
Yet, it’s good to muse on our myopia. It allows for a greater sense of the contributions and vitality of everyone else - including those faithful sanitation workers. As I looked at the swollen eyes of the blonde woman just across the aisle or the the tall red-headed young man who was constantly rubbing his nose with his sleeve a few pews to my my right, I thought of the biblical proverb, “You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—after all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover something from it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2 TM)
At a feast, my thoughts run toward my tummy. During a funeral, there's food for my soul.
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: God loves us so much that He allows us to see our end on this earth. The duties of a garbageman is to gather things and bury them in the dirt while the responsibility of the undertaker is to lower us into the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If such a juxtaposition shocks my senses, then it has every right to be called a portal to heaven from a very loving Creator.
Teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom…Remember what my span of life is; for what vanity You have created all the sons of men! What man can live and not see death?…Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you.
Psalm 90:12 NASB, Psalm 89:47 NASB, 1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB