We went to a funeral this morning, a memorial service for a friend who passed from this life much too soon. It was held in the chapel of our church, a striking new addition with beautiful stained glass windows all around, illuminated this morning by a bright sun that defied the inherent solemnity of the occasion.
The service began with music, a recorded song, and the beginning notes were immediately recognizable to a few of us sitting in the pews. I was at first a bit puzzled by the song selection, but then the significance dawned on me, and I couldn't help grinning while perhaps fighting back a few tears as I listened to it.
Was it one of the great old hymns of our shared faith, or a beautiful contemporary worship chorus? Well, not really, but it was deeply personal for those who knew the man and his surviving wife.
One of my memories of the couple - who had been married only a couple of years - was of them dancing, getting lost in each others arms, obviously in love and, yes, having fun with it. I suspect that most of the people in attendance at the funeral didn't even know that side of them...the man's family expressed surprise when I mentioned it to them in the greeting line after the service; I think they'd been puzzled by the music selection, too, and they were pleased to learn its significance.
I mentioned our shared faith; it's a faith that assures us that this life is just a prelude to a much better and eternal existence, one that helps us understand that this parting is just temporary. As such, a memorial service is equal parts sorrow and gladness, and as such, a country song that celebrates the joy of life and love is entirely appropriate. We Baptists may not be dancing in church, but that doesn't mean that our hearts aren't moving in time to the music, and beating in synchronicity and empathy and joy, even during a time of earthly grief.
My prayer for all married couples is that when that inevitable sorrow comes, that it not be avoided, but that it be tempered by the knowledge that the love they shared was, above all, simply fun.