Our hands outstretched on each other’s shoulders linking back to our dear Bens urn. The words of commendation spoken together as we trust Ben to God’s care. Moments later, a rousing rendition of This Little Light of Mine is sung as we process out. Together, in community, we sang, we cried, and we laughed as we remembered our beloved friend. I can still see and hear us all standing in that brewery in Wisconsin singing a very rousing moving rendition of the hymn Canticle of the Turning.
And months later, I gather with another group of friends for yet another funeral. The entire pew was filled with this group as we said goodbye to our friend Rachel. We stood around the casket together. Again we cried, we sang, and we remembered this beloved child of God.
I watched as over 20 women colleagues gathered around the railing after communion at Steph’s funeral. A symbol that together Steph and all gathered in this place were part of this cloud of witnesses.
And at Jim’s funeral, his wife and children gathered under the tent as the American flag draped over his casket is folded and presented to his wife. Taps and the 21 gun salute permeate the air. Tears fall. Another group of people gathered to say goodbye.
Community is a gift in the midst of loss and grief. Together, we grieve. Together, we know we are not alone. Together, we proclaim in the promises of eternal life knowing we will see our loved ones again. Together, we are the cloud of witnesses, called and claimed by God.