Monday, October 13, 2008

Without Your Clothes On

I mentioned in an earlier blog that one of the things I want to do is provide a little more levity as it comes my way. Especially because I am by nature a fairly serious person, but also because the adoptive parenting task can be overwhelming to someone with a serious bent, I'm trying to enjoy those unplanned epiphanies where humor enters my life.

This morning I had a funeral for a relatively young man, who at the age of 78, died as a result of the effects of alzheimer's. I've only known him the two years we've been in this community and parish, and the past year he has been largely in a different state of mind, so my memories of him are limited at best. The first year I was here as his pastor he would always thank me at the end of the service as he shook my hand, often by saying, "A very nice sermon, reverend." As you might suspect if you are a church goer, a pastor hears those words on a regular basis, whether deserved or not. It's kind of like greeting someone with, "How are you?" and not really expecting an answer. But with the man whom we said goodbye to today, it always seemed sincere and personal.

These kind of funerals are not difficult. To help a family and friends celebrate the life of a person who has lived his years well, who has spent the past year slowly fading from the life he and those around him knew, is not hard. He, and his family members, were ready for his transition from this life to the one beyond.

Observing his family and friends hug, laugh and share conversation before and after the service was rewarding. It confirms what intuitively I thought to be true. He was a lover of people and those who were in his shadows are good, kind, loving people.

Following the lunch together a small group of family members were gathering to depart as I was crossing the entry area of our church facility. I was on my way to return my vestments to the sacristy when I was pulled aside by his widow. After some kind words and a hug, she introduced me to her deceased husband's sister-in-law. And that's where my chuckle for the day ensued.

"Oh," she said, as her septagenarian eyes scanned me, "that's who you are. I didn't recognize you without your clothes on." She was referring, of course, to my liturgical apparel ... alb, stole and cincture. But I couldn't help smiling to myself about the interesting way we humans communicate one with another.


Gary Zimmerli said...

Ha-ha, well, that's what you get for walking through the narthex in such a state of undress, Bart!

Thanks for the good laugh!

Michelle said...

Long time lurker just had to post this "opposite" experience:

I was appearing before a judge I hadn't been in front of before and I thought she looked familiar -- as the hearing went on, I realized she was a women who was a regular in my aerobics class -- I just didn't recognize her with her clothes (judges' gown) on. :)