Saturday, December 02, 2006

Rite I and Broadway

I missed half of First Vespers of Advent I because of a funeral this afternoon. I was worried some of the sisters would be angry with me. Since the funeral started at 2:30, you'd think I'd have made it home by 5:30. But it was a funeral for an actor and many in the congregation were actors, so the eulogies went on and on and on... I was late, but nobody seemed too upset.

A lot of people hate funerals. I've come to like them. Not like, as in I'm having a great time, but like as in participating in an important rite of passage, both for the dead and the living. I cry at funerals the same way I cry at weddings and baptisms and other rituals where there is a celebration of faith, an outpouring of love, a vow of commitment. These are intangible things, and as far as I'm concerned, the formal occasions for honoring them don't occur often enough.

The man who died had courageously battled pancreatic cancer. He had lived much longer than most who are unlucky enough to to be cursed with that particular form, although cancer in any form is no walk in the park. He was a generous and truly likable man, whose sunny optimistic attitude was both annoying and endearing. His extended family was the St. Bart's Players and they were out in numbers to give him a spectacular send-off. An odd mix of Rite I and Broadway... he'd have loved it.

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