Together – Wherever We Are!

Good Morning!

A great deal of my time in ministry has been spent with families at the time of death. Sometimes I have walked with those families through illness and at other times I have been invited in at the end. In all instances it has been a privilege to be invited into such a moment in the journey.  In my book “Creating Spaces for Healing and Hope” I explore the importance of finding ways to say good-bye and to begin a new journey.  “As one stands at the end of a life there are number of things that can be helpful in moving from that place of darkness and shadows into new light. One of those is ritual – a way to formally say good-bye and begin the grieving process. Some might say that this is needed for closure, however I have come to understand that perhaps closure is not a helpful word. How does one actually close such an important and integral part of their being? Rather I would suggest that ritual helps begin a journey toward peace and healing.”  Traditionally this had taken the form of a funeral service, either in the church or in the funeral home. However as we change as a society and our family members become scattered this is more and more difficult. In some cases church is not part of the life experience and perhaps the Christian ceremony does not seem to be one that can be done with integrity. And yet, the need to be able to honour life and tell the story is still an integral part of the process.

 

A couple of weeks ago my Uncle died. He was not a church person but I would argue that he had a deep sense of spirituality that was revealed in his connection with creation. Our family is a large one numbering in the hundreds and we are scattered across this country and around the world. His body was donated to research and it was not his desire to have a funeral. However, as those touched by his life we needed a way to come together in love and hope and celebration. One member of the family had an idea! With the advances in technology we are connected electronically and so perhaps this was something we could use to help in our journey. An invitation was sent out on our Family facebook page and then something amazing happened! In small groups and larger groups we gathered on Sunday October 25th wherever we found ourselves. From the banks of the Hamilton River in Labrador; Signal Hill in Newfoundland, Brackley Beach in PEI; The banks of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia; the backyard in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario; along the shores in Iqaluit; to Manitoba; Alberta and BC and even to Irvine, California. We told stories and shared memories and then released into the air balloons, Chinese lanterns and bubbles. Some lit fires and the stories of this wonderful man were sent up in the smoke, returning his spirit to the universe. In each place photos were taken and then posted on the facebook page along with where we were and some words of remembering. Throughout the day we kept checking in to see who had posted; to see the balloons and again remember our uncle. The only province that this did not happen in was Saskatchewan and the Yukon was the only territory. In every other place we gathered and were connected in this ritual of remembering. There was a sense of spirit and the presence of the Divine was evident.

I have participated in and presided at countless celebrations over the years in ministry and each one has reflected the nature of the person we come to celebrate. For my Uncle who was a little bit of everything and whose journey took him to many different places this was definitely the way to tell his story and honour his life.

In the United Church Creed we find these words. “ In life, in death, in life beyond death. We are not alone. Thanks be to God” Whether our rituals are ancient or brand new they are definitely one of the ways that we are able to move into a place of wholeness and peace and are reminded that we are not alone.

 

Blessings

Valerie

( you can also check this out on www.peytonkingsbury.ca with pictures)

 

Reminders of the Week

 This Sunday Following Worship you are invited to the church hall for lunch and a time of brainstorming around how we support the ongoing ministry of the church.  Lunch will be provided!

Saturday November 7th  –  Roast Beef Supper Tickets on sale following worship or at the office through the week

Saturday November 14th –  Pancake Breakfast to kick off Anniversary Weekend

Sunday November 15th A Service of Celebration for Anniversary followed by potluck lunch in the hall.  Bring something to add to the table and we will be fed! If you can’t bring food just bring yourself ! There is always enough to feed the 5000

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