Today I preached at the funeral of a dear friend/former parishioner/priest of our diocese. He was 81 years old. The church was packed, in spite of the fact that it was a Tuesday morning in late August. That is somewhat unusual for a person who is in their eighties, but says a lot about who he was.
I noted that one of those in attendance was a former colleague of the deceased who drove from Williamstown to Holden (a 2 hour and 15 minute drive each way, according to Google Maps.) The service was a little over an hour (long-winded preacher) so that means he took more than five and a half hours out of his day to be there. Kudos.
And on this very day, I saw this posted on a friend's Facebook page.
It struck a chord. It brought back a memory of my own father's funeral, more than thirty years ago, when I was a freshman in college and my dad died unexpectedly on April 30 of my freshman year of college. A bunch of guys I had only known since late August got in a GUTS van (that's Georgetown University Transportation Service van) and drove five hours in early May - days before the end of the semester and final exams - to be there. This was in 1982. I am sure it was not "convenient" for them to do that. They took the time - maybe it even cost them an "A" to do it - to be there. It was an act of kindness that is as fresh today as it was then, an act of kindness I shall never forget.
I hear it far too often: I don't go to funerals. They are too sad. Too depressing. But here is the thing: we need to go because it is what friends and neighbors do. And my memories, Deirdre Sullivan's memories -the memories of the family of my friend today who came into a packed church on a beach day in August - those are priceless.