I attended a funeral today for a small child, whose death was an unspeakable tragedy. It was my first non-JW funeral and indeed the first time I'd ever been in a church. I couldn't even comprehend what the parents must be going through. The church was packed and as everyone entered a pianist was playing Mozart's variations on the theme commonly known as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Everyone was sobbing. The services were full of rituals, readings and responses, hymns and prayers, two beautiful remembrances of this all too short life. Everyone was grieving together, supporting this devastated family, surrounded by soft candlelight and the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows.
As the services ended, the pallbearers carried the tiny coffin down the aisle, followed by the parents, their family and then all in attendance. It was heartbreakingly sad, and yet it seemed like this is what has been done for thousands of years, a sorrowful rite of passage, a funeral procession to lay a little one to rest. When there is nothing else you can do, it made sense that there would be a ritual to follow, something prescribed to just help them take the next step. It was a profoundly moving experience.
I couldn't help but think if I were in their shoes and my child passed tomorrow. A Kingdom song, five minutes review of their life and the remaining 25 minutes reminding us how we ought to use our last waking moments to go out in service more. I'm not saying I would go out and join another church, but this experience made me realize that there's a world of human experience out there which I have never had access to, and which is beautiful and wondrous.
Give your kids an extra hug and kiss tonight if you can.