Monday, October 3, 2011

The Funeral Rites of the Midwestern German

I'm pretty sure that Garrison Keillor probably covered this at some point, but a week ago, I had to run home quickly to attend my Great-Aunt's funeral.  As I went through the rituals, I found such comfort, that I really started to reflect on religious rituals in a meditative way that probably would have made her entire generation of old-school Lutherans wonder if the Blue Hymnal was turning the young people into Buddhists.

So something unexpected happens, and someone dies.  We're frazzled, unnerved, our entire world has shifted, and it's disorienting.  Then, we gather at the church, drink old black coffee, sing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" in 4-part harmony as the casket is wheeled out of the church, then sit around drinking more black coffee and eating a quick lunch of luncheon meats, potato salad, things suspended in jello, and chocolate baked goods.  This world is oddly familiar.  Comforting.  Life can keep going now.  And while we pledge to our families that we'll get together for something other than a funeral, in the back of our minds we kind of feel that we're going to meet again at a funeral.  The last time we had seen our aunt was at a funeral, after all, talking over the plans for her new home while having a marvelous lunch of fried chicken and pasta salad.

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