Like most people I have a spot in my office that collects stuff. It’s a bit out of my reach from my desk, it doesn’t get cleared off at the end of the day or for meetings, and most of the time the stuff that lands there stays there. It’s a lateral filing cabinet, a nice piece of furniture with shelves above that I use for display of family pictures, diplomas and special objects. But the space right above the files is just a flat surface waiting to be filled.
At the moment, it is covered with:
- A continuing education catalog
- A couple random papers I didn’t know where to file
- A canister of Lysol disposable wipes from the last pestilent period in my household (August)
- The cremains of a member who died in July
Now, I know the last one should give me pause. I mean her no disrespect next to the Lysol wipes, but this is simply the only flat surface in the office where she wouldn’t likely be knocked over or constantly moved around. The family members plan to inter her in our columbarium, but simply haven’t scheduled the time of committal yet. And so there’s this unassuming small white box that catches no one’s attention but mine. The thing that bothers me most is not that she’s there, but that I DON’T feel her looking over my shoulder. Much of the time I don’t notice that box at all any more than I notice the pile of homeless papers.
In the Hebrew Bible the worst curse of all is to be forgotten after death. Eternal life was defined largely as how one’s name lived on, how the community remembered you. This person is not forgotten – not by me, not by her family – but it is still distressing how quickly the remains of a life simply become part of the landscape. Unless that person was a daily part of your life, their absence very quickly fades into the background.
That’s why I’m so very grateful that after nearly 2 years my congregation is still praying for the U.S. Iraq the list