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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snow and Millie's funeral

Duane and I walked out of Holy Family church yesterday, after Millie Funke's funeral, and were surprised to see how much snow had fallen in two hours.  The snow created a little chaos for those of us traveling to the cemetery for the final blessings and burial.  Father Root said the prayers quickly as we huddled under umbrellas and the tent.  Family members didn't linger at all at the cemetery and seemed to eat quickly at the Parish Center.  The looming dread of driving back to Cottonwood and to Oregon hovered as we visited with the Wessels extended family.  The sight of the Sonnen, Hasenoehrl and Arnzen cousins delighted me….. it was quite a testament to their Aunt Millie.  I felt a little sensory overload to see so many and have so little time to visit and catch up with each one.  Many of my Wessels nieces and nephews have their own children now.  Millie had seven great grandchildren and those little ones stole the show.  Meghann Funke, Dale's daughter, got up to the microphone at the end of Mass, and read a beautiful tribute to her grandma.  Ah, the blessings of a large family!!!

I love the rich Advent reflections that sit on my prayer table.   This morning I read Mary Catherine Deeley's thoughts about Isaiah's words, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord."  She mentions that most people lay our their lives in calendars, which gives us the illusion that we are in control.  The story of the Incarnation reminds us that Mary's yes meant yielding to God's plan to bring LOVE into the world.  "God comes in the middle of things that throw our calendars and schedules into chaos.  Birth, death, suffering, and profound joy don't come to us at neatly planned appointments."  Is it possible to set our calendars aside and believe that God can transform us mundane as well as spectacular moments.

Millie's death came smack in the middle of busy Christmas preparations.  Her family made room for the transformation that happens with death….connection with others, celebrating a life well lived.  Nieces and nephews rearranged schedules to be present at the celebration.  Every funeral I attend transforms me in some little way.  Bernard and Millie were married for 65 years - their love and concern for each other made it possible for her to be at home the final months of her life.  The kids stepped up to help out and other community members brought meals, the Eucharist, and other moments of support.

How does one describe the quiet, the whiteness, the softness of snow on a winter morning?  It feels like a great gift, a miracle to me, especially here in Lewiston.  I get my camera out and try to capture the moment and the feelings I have….


Snow and death….. Is there a connection?  
       Quiet
           Soft
               Illuminating
                  Pure
                      Peace-filled

Millie, be the light that guides our way this holy season.  Teach us to set aside our calendars and relish those moments of transformation that come to us through the surprise of snow, the hug of a grandchild, the joy of connecting with extended family





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