We attended a memorial service for an friend a few days ago. It was at a Friends meeting house and it was a lovely acknowledgement of a man's life.
We sat in concentric circles with Jeff's family in the inner circle surrounded by his and their neighbors, colleagues, friends and community. He was not present in body, but he was present everywhere among the hundred or so gathered to honor and mourn him.
Set amidst different musical pieces I am sure he enjoyed, we came together to sit and share in Jeff. The bulk of the service was about this. To sit in unity and recognize, reflect, share and grieve for what would be no more in a body. We were witness and served as a collective eulogy. It was powerful, it was wonderful, it was grace for him and us.
Death has a way of focusing us and stripping away the clutter of life into its real center, connection. His was a big energy packed into a stocky powerful form that reflected his inner blacksmith. Boisterous, full of stories, knowledge, wisdom, booming laugh, alongside opinions and yet willing to change them if convinced.
Jeff, in his lifetime demonstrated grace, respect, friendship and mentoring. He was a man of deep convictions and moral integrity. Both as a consciousness objector in his time of war and offering his hand to another. Honed with degrees, an encyclopedic mind, no one's fool, he was robust in expressing life, he was a puppy inside.
He was a living connection to our past less mechanized and industrial society and the history of creation then.You made what you needed. There was no Home Depot down the street.
His joy was in making things, getting his hands dirty, and diving in, whether it be a marriage, helping a child develop into an adult, creating a company, being an expert in his field, home and landowner and as a blacksmith. He had the eye and tolerance to help foster others into being the best they could be and not what he might have wanted. His was an artist's eye to see into the medium in front of him as raw potential and help to bring it out, while also humble about his helping.
In the reflected warmth of his friends sharing their Friends Meeting Room, we each sat in those concentric circles around his wife, 3 children and their families.
The space provided support and the opportunity for any to share as they were so moved and many were moved to share, to acknowledge for themselves and us a relationship of worth. We were allowed to feel what we each felt.
We reflected his passions and shared interests. Young blacksmiths sat next to a grieving longtime grateful business partner and friend, neighbors who shared fences with his ever changing artistic Victorian home, friends of his equally powerful partner in his wife, his talented children, and the young artist community of sculptors, metalworkers, painters and creative minds that he had been a father energy to. The good kind of father we each want.
As I listened and felt, I was aware of how all had gathered and given witness to what had been real beyond my own limited experience of Jeff. Sometimes it does not happen to share a lot of time with someone. The gift is in the moment of being together. I remember these moments.
We then shook hands with those around us to have the physical connection of life that Jeff created.
He was able to spend his last months with his family, friends and colleagues that brought that connection front and center. He had a chance to see what legacy of connection and warmth of spirit he had created in being himself. Every moment was an opportunity to express gratitude and he did.
In every picture he is glowing.
He appreciated the wholeness of life, the give and take, the joys and sorrow, the hand in hand of experience of being with others that all lives contain. It was a full life. It was the man we gave witness to in the circles of his life.
Life in the Beyond/Journeys Into Enlightenment