Last evening, I had the privilege of leading a service for Daryl J., a 65-year-old man who passed away in his sleep after an extended illness.   Every family is special in their own way.  Daryl’s family and friends had a true joyful spirit.  While we often use the phrase, last night’s service was truly a “celebration of life.” 

His family shared beautiful reflections about Daryl, but I was moved by a particular comment.  I was told that “he loved out loud.”  I can’t think of a better way to capture someone’s spirit.  Daryl wasn’t afraid to let people know that he loved them and was famous for ending every conversation with “I love you, man.”  

It’s our character that summarizes our lives.  And Daryl’s character was one of always finding the best in any situation and making people feel better about themselves because of being with him.

We hear in St. John’s letter that “God is love and everyone who lives in love, lives in God and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  It is the moving of love in and through our lives that is the hand of the ever-living God.  Daryl was one of those hands. 

Maybe the takeaway for us is not to be shy about those we love – let everyone know that we love them.  Let’s take a page from Daryl’s life, let’s “love out loud.”

 
 
On January 13th, I had the privilege of officiating at the funeral of Linley Carlyle Michael.  In my reflection post, you’ll read about the most amazing family and a large-than-life man who was always loving and kind.  He was a prankster, peacemaker, and a never-give-up fighter.   

His wife and six sons loved him intensely -- and they still do.  If anything, that love has grown since the funeral.  As Dominican priest Fr. Bede Jarrett reminds us: Life is unending because love is undying.  I believe this because I see it so often. 

A month after his death, his wife, sons, family and friends gathered to celebrate a first-month memorial mass and share dinner.  Part of the gathering was to view a wonderful video tribute made by his family.  Please watch this wonderful video

The video is titled Prometheus, the Greek mythological champion of mankind known for his wily intelligence who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.   This is who Linley Michael was and remains to his family -- a man with a passion for life and a love for all.

This wonderful video has a number of powerful messages from Linley.   I’ll share just two (but there are many):
  • You only live once, but if you live it right, once is enough
But, for me the most powerful is the question Linley asks us all:
  • If you were arrested for kindness would there be enough evidence to convict you?
For Linley, the evidence is overwhelming -- a conviction is assured.  May it be so for us all.

Linley Carlyle Michael ~ 1939 –2012 ~ Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather

 
 
I can't sleep.  It's beyond bedtime and I'm remembering a graveside service from this afternoon.  I stopped counting at 115 people who came to the place of Ernestina's final rest on a beautiful spring afternoon.  Combined with the prayer I lead, there were beautiful Spanish songs and heartfelt expressions of sadness and memories.  

In the prayer of farewell, I always stress the promise by Dominican Priest Bede Jarret that "life is unending because love is undying."  And then I repeat it again because I see it as the meaning of all spirituality.  What makes life eternal is that we can love, and love very deeply.  Our faith is that love never dies and we continue to love those who live in the time beyond time.  The Easter promise of the empty tomb is that we will live forever because we love.

I share with you "Who wants to live forever," popularized by The Ten Tenors, Queen, Sarah Brightman and many others.  Words and music by Brian May.

There's no time for us.  There's no place for us
What is this thing that builds our dreams yet slips away from us

Who wants to live forever.  Who wants to live forever....?

There's no chance for us.  It's all decided for us
This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us

Who wants to live forever.  Who wants to live forever?
Who dares to love forever? When love must die

But touch my tears with your lips.  Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever.  And we can love forever

Forever is our today
Who wants to live forever  Who wants to live forever?
Forever is our today
 
 
Timeless Lord, we stand in the in-between time of your coming and coming again.  You are the time of new beginnings and the time of forgiven mistakes.   All time is your time in that you are making all things new.

Oh roaring lion of Judah - draw us closer, fold us into you – open our eyes to your presence in us and around us and through us.  For all time, Almighty God is the right time in you.
 
 
It was one of those warm March afternoons that tease us into spring.  The flag-draped coffin was mounted in the outside grotto at Quantico Memorial Park.  I’d just finished the prayers of commitment and a young marine was playing taps as a final tribute to Roland’s service to the country.  

I looked across at his wife to see one small tear well up in her eye and streak down her beautiful brown skin.  With such dignity and strength she bore the past days that we all know about but really don't until we walk their jumble minutes and hours.  

My heart so hurt as I saw that tear.  I could feel that it was but the tiniest of a torrent just waiting to overflow.   Of buckets of sadness and anger and hurt and of if only.

My prayer is that she finds comfort in that private place of memories and that the promise of new life begins, in a small way, to bring a spring of peace.
 
 
This is a reflection from my personal prayer journal after a funeral that I presided at yesterday.  It was for this amazing, larger-than-life man who embodied holiness.  He was kind, gentle, humble, forgiving, always loving, compassionate.  As I thought about the service and the tremendous outpouring from friends and family, these are my thoughts:

Imagine. . . Image if all that we have been taught about the presence of God as being "in heaven," different from us, always other than us is totally wrong?  What if the incarnation is real -- real like my monthly mortgage payment?  What if God is totally enwrapped in us and we in God (as St. Patrick's Breastplate suggests), now, all the time -- in us and in everyone else in every circumstance and happening (including my mistakes and my hidden shames)?

What if mortal death is an awareness of this realization and a more immediate participation in this ongoing nearness? What if our dead relatives and friends and neighbors and everyone else are still with us (love is eternal), just in a different presence, but still with us? What if the Eucharist that we hold in our hands is just as much about our hands as it is the Sacred Bread?

What if we have taken the stories of Jesus "going up into heaven" and his return in glory (Matt 25) far too literally? What if the question of the "two men dressed in white garments" that we read in the first chapter of Acts is the same question asked of us: "why are you standing there looking at the sky?" (Acts 1:11)