Monday, June 7, 2010

The Funeral

I have been to a few funerals, but this is the first one where I participated. I usually sit in the back and crack jokes and fight the giggles. It's what I do when facing the realities of life. When I was looking through pictures to post of my mother, I came across a letter from her. She sent it after her father's funeral in 1985, which I was unable to attend. It had a memorial card, a short note about the day humorously bitching about my aunts, and a typewritten page of a translated version of Psalm 23 from T. C. McLuhan's book "Touch the Earth." Father Olson, the pastor officiating my grandfather's funeral read it and my mother thought it was beautiful. Given my organizational skills, the fact that I still had this letter and the hard copy of the psalm seemed like a sign to have it read at my mother's funeral. Pastor Mike liked the idea and asked me to read it. My mother would certainly want that. I accepted, not realizing what a struggle it would be to get through without breaking down in tears. I made it through, teary-eyed and shaky-voiced.

The Twenty-third Psalm
- Native American Version -

The Great Father above a Shepherd Chief is.

I am His, and with Him I want not.
He throws out to me a rope,
And the name of the rope is love.

He draws me to where the grass is green,
And the water’s not dangerous.
I eat and lie down and am satisfied.

Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down,
But He lifts me up again, and draws me into a good road.
His name is WONDERFUL.

Sometime soon, or it may be a long, long time,
He will draw me into a valley.
It is dark there, but I'll be afraid not,
For it is in between those mountains
That the Shepherd Chief will meet me
And the hunger that I have in my heart
All through this life will be satisfied.

Sometimes He makes the love rope into a whip
But afterwards He gives me a staff to lean upon.

He spreads a table before me with all kinds of foods.
He puts His hand upon my head, And all the "tired" is gone.

My cup He fills ‘till it runs over.
What I tell is true; I lie not.
These roads that are "away ahead"
Will stay with me through this life and after;
And afterwards I will go to live In the Big Tepee
And sit down with the Shepherd Chief forever.

After the service, I was chatting with Pastor Mike and showed him my mother's letter. He got a kick out of it and was blown away by the post script where my mom explained the psalm was found by Father Olson to be read. Pastor Mike's first funeral as a pastor was Father Olson's. I have a feeling this version of Psalm 23 is going to be getting a lot more air play.