Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We Gather Together

This weekend when we drove to Oregon for George's funeral, we also happened to be driving into what would be the worst storm to hit the Pacific Northwest in many years. While the coast was experiencing hurricane force winds, loss of electricity, communications, and tremendous flooding, we were experiencing rain, snow, and wind gusts that knocked our car around. It made driving a real challenge on our return home drive.

Saturday we woke to snow flurries. I had not seen snow in at least 15 years and these little motes of sparkling dust fascinated me. The snow remained light and wet, staying on the ground through the day. Erin said snow this time of year was unusual so of course, the snow was a gift from George.

If funeral attendance is a measure of one's impact in life, then George's impact was GREAT. Family, friends, and co-workers numbered in the low hundreds, perhaps 350 or more. Mass was short one communion minister so I had the unexpected privilege of offering communion. I had not anticipated how emotional it would be. Each person, as they came forward, wore a face etched with sadness as they struggled for control.

I was moved by George's mother's personal strength as she spoke of him at Mass's conclusion. It was gratifying to hear of George's own words to her of his readiness to move on. And most of all, I was comforted for his family that he had found a mission, that he fully expected to wield a great sword - to be a force against evil much like his namesake, St. George.

Erin's family home overlooks the rolling hills of a rural farming community. The still active cemetery was established in 1887. Unlike the clean and orderly lines of modern cemetery, George has been laid to rest in a place that is one with the roll of the earth and the elements.

The seasons sharply mark the life cycle of the area and echo in the cemetery itself. Winter snow covered rhododendrons, weathered headstones, and leafless trees. Barns and greenhouses hug its boundaries, present life rubbing up against past life.

We eventually left, each of us wrapped in our private thoughts. I loved the triplets, as I called the three winter barren trees, guardian soldiers of this resting place. But now, five days later, I see more than three trees. I see a Trinity - a gathering of the protective strength of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and I know that George is safe, preparing to wield his sword.

Young and old
to honor one gone
too young.

Young widow
Yet still three very alone people.

Shock still lives here, but -
Each ebbing of the sun
moving shock's cold reach
farther off.

Pain and anger.
Acceptance and reconciliation.
Each arrives in its turn
doing its work as
new life begins again.


Jone said...

I have tears in my eyes. What a beautiful tribute. The photo of the triplets is evocative. And the poem, wow! I hope you are sharing this with George's family. What a lasting tribute to their son, brother, and husband. Blessings.

qualcosa di bello said...

annie...a very moving poem. it pulled me into the moment in a perfect balance of the deepest sorrow & a ray of hope. holding you all in prayer...

Mary Timme said...

No words, Anne! Just a profound, OOOooooooooooooHhhhhhhhh!

Susie said...

What a beautiful tribute to a life ended far too soon. It's quite obvious that your feelings were shared by all who gathered to say goodbye.
I love the symbolism of the three trees..

UL said...

Beautiful indeed. And 'new life begins again..' the circle is complete...thank you.


miss*R said...

sending love to you Annie xox

Julie Marie said...

Tears are dripping down my cheeks. Beautiful post, beautiful photo, beautiful poem. I am sure that George felt your sweet love so strongly.

I get chills (good ones) thinking of him raising his sword. I am sure I will think of this in the future!!