...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just Wondering- On Memorials

Why the total disconnect of the past ten days- between visual media (especially national cable T.V.), which have been covering Michael Jackson's death ad nauseum and the local radio stations, where he and the Jackson Five have been totally absent in the same time frame.

What the Jackson family was thinking and feeling- especially Michael's children- when Stevie Wonder, whose music I love, said that God needed Michael more than we did. For me, this confirms that musicians should focus on their art and refrain from theologizing. I think this is also true of church musicians who sometimes can end up opinion- sharing and distancing the congregation instead of leading worship and bringing together.

When people are in grief, we can say some interesting and also weird things. One marked change over the last 25 years, I believe, has been the number of close friends, especially family, who are speaking at memorials and funerals in our churches. This is sometimes good in that the service can be more individualized, and a little less formalized.

On the other hand, you don't want these same folks, who are also in grief, to feel pressured or to be too anxious about breaking down in the middle of their talk. Normally, a person can determine if they will be able to speak or not. However, in grief we can't always know or say what we'll be up to doing.

Then there's the time factor. As officiating pastor, I offer to read comments written by a family member. I remember wanting to say a few words at my brother's memorial a few years back, but I just couldn't put it into words of a short duration, so I refrained. Then, a few years later at my Dad's memorial, I managed to share a few memories just fine.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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