LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
When I get to Heaven I'm not going to ask God why bad things happen to good people; I'm not going to ask Him why there exists such a gross imbalance of the distribution of wealth on the planet; I’m not going to ask Him why I never hit on the lottery ticket I bought daily, despite my promise to allocate my winnings to The Catholic Church, The Albany City Mission, and the domestic violence group that assisted me 25 years ago this month.
No. The question I have for God is this: What the heck is wrong with people?
I mean…why do we, as a society, suffer from perennial amnesia? Why have we forgotten how to behave well? Why have we disregarded so much of what our grandparents and parents worked so hard to teach us? Why do so many care so little about honoring and burying the dead these days?
Last week, a good soul left this planet: a man whom everyone liked very much, a man whose vocation was actually that of burying the dead. He spent nearly two decades witnessing and carrying other people's grief in our little town's funeral home. He spent countless days and nights attending to Death and all of its demands. He kept watch far into the night after the deceased's friends and family had returned to their clean, well lit homes, comforted by the knowledge that the person they loved and lost was not going to be alone that night. This man carried bodies out of empty houses, dug graves, placed flowers on altars and in cemeteries, and always did so as if he had had the most important job in world! His life was indeed a daily "corporal work of mercy" and yet I am sad to say, little mercy was returned to him in kind. There was hardly a bouquet of flowers at his coffin.
This gave me pause. It caused me to think about tradition and ritual, and how beauty, even in death, is in the details. We as Catholics are called to bury the dead. We are called to take the time, to stop whatever we are doing for ourselves, and acknowledge a person's passing, honor his memory and make certain that he is not just left alone ... abandoned like an old tire on the side of the road as we speed by on our way to our next appointment, or to the shopping mall.
The wake-up call for me around the passing of this one man, whom I hardly knew, was this: One can’t even rely on who attends your funeral as a measure of the good you did in the world. Well, at least a few recognized the service this man provided to so many ... the mercy he showed so many. And this is just to say: “Danny … you are not forgotten. Thank you, and I hope you liked the flowers.”