Funerals are a good thing.
Yesterday, I went to my friend Kathy Lockart's funeral. I saw old friends. We cried. We laughed.
I heard the Word. Was saturated by it, actually. The Word prevailed throughout.
And then there was Psalm 23.
The pastor invited us to say it aloud with him before he began reading it. It was an impromptu invitation. There were no words in the bulletin, no Bibles in the pew. And yet, when he began, there was not a closed mouth in the sanctuary. We all lifted our voices together and recited the Truth:
The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack no good thing....
He restores my soul....
Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
It took all I had not to sob audibly as I sat with these old friends and claimed that truth together.
There is power in remembering. There is Presence in reciting. In that moment, we were in community. Standing together against all forces of evil and proclaiming the truth. Just as Kathy had done so many times in so many ways. It was a fitting tribute.
When I came home and got the kids to bed I still felt the need to celebrate. To mark her life and my grief over losing her. I couldn't decide what to do so I went with my gut: I baked a cake.
As I whipped up the frosting and poured out the batter I thought: "this is therapeutic." There is something about food and funerals. As we engage with food (bringing it over to the bereaved's house, eating it at the post-burial reception, making it alone in your home as a private act of marking your own grief), we affirm life. You have to have food to live, after all. Eating is the opposite of dieing.
And, the tradition of food and funerals is a very Southern thing, is it not? Holding that mixing bowl and wooden spoon, I felt like I was transported to a time and place where tradition was paramount, where you did because you just do, where eating is the only proper response and "setting" food on a table is an enormous, tremendous act of love.
So I baked my cake. I made it pretty because Kathy would appreciate that. I cut myself a slice and ate it alone, in her honor. And I smiled. I remembered. I gave thanks.
Kathy, here's to you, friend. You are missed.