A call came into the office from a stranger, to see if the minister might lead a graveside service for a man who died last spring during the pandemic. I usually do not lead rites of passage for non-members, but I agreed to this one. The date was chosen by the family: this past Friday, July 9th.
It just so happened that Friday was the day that we got the remains of Tropical Storm Elsa.
On Thursday, the night before the ceremony, I was talking to my mom about the fact that I had an outdoor committal in the morning despite the weather forecast. She said “Oh, they shouldn’t do that.” I told her that’s what the family had decided. She said, “Well, I can tell you right now, it’s going to be inside!” I said, “Nope, they just want to bring umbrellas.” She couldn’t believe it. Then she said, “Poor baby!”
I said, “What baby?! There’s no baby. It’s a graveside service- a committal!”
She said, “Oh! A committal, not a dedication.” She was imagining a family dedicating their baby in the pouring, blowing rain. So we riffed on what one would say at such an event: “Welcome to life, kid- it’s a big mess out here.” “Might as well know it now, baby, life is going to be one big nasty storm!” (And yes, we thought we were quite funny.)
The playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that is has taken place.” It’s true in many settings, and certainly true in congregations. A bunch of folks have been a bit out of the loop during the last pandemic year; I hope y’all will reach out to each other this summer with personal updates and friendliness. We are planning to go “hybrid” in the fall which will mean that folks will still be able to Zoom in to worship but those who wish can meet in person at the Meeting House. Some face-to-face communication and community may be just what we need!
Yours in wet days and comical misunderstandings,
P.S. If you have been out of the loop, I returned from my 3 month sabbatical on June 1st and have been working and on-call since then. However, for the next month other Merrimack Valley UU clergy will be on-call: Rev. Frank Clarkson of Haverhill for the last two weeks of July and then the Rev. Kali Frye of Andover for the first two weeks of August. The clergy pastoral on-call schedule and contact info is listed on the website here will continue to appear in the Enews. Be well!