I went to a funeral today. I didn’t know the man who died, but I’ve known his daughter for years. She is a gift to the town I call home, a sure and steady force for common sense and community service. Today was a chance to offer her my condolences, and to offer a prayer of thanks for the life of her father.
After the church and graveside prayers have all been said, family and friends stay together for one last holy act: sharing a meal. There are stories and memories best told over a loaded plate and a full cup, heard most gratefully over the scrape of forks and clinking of glasses. This meal that honors a life and its loss isn’t just a nice extra. It is the first act of a family who will gather together and continue to grow, not with but because of the one who is no longer present.
I’m a stranger to the family, so I did not share their meal and stories today. But sometime soon, I’ll chop onions and carrots for soup and make a loaf of bread. I’ll pick up a bottle of wine. I’ll offer these small things to a daughter who buried her father, and I’ll tell her that I am thankful for the man who brought her into this world – a delight to God and a gift to this world. Could I say such words without the food? Perhaps. But they seem easier to say and easier to hear over a plate and a glass than on their own.