Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It is well with her soul

Recently I attended my friend Anne's funeral. It was a moving and uplifting service, as the funerals for long lives well lived should always be. Anne was 102 1/2 at the time of her death, and had had no serious health troubles until last fall. This is certainly what we each hope for at the end of our earthly lives.

In my former parish, Anne was our "choir mother" for many, many years. She maintained the choral library, mended our robes, kept attendance records (noting, on the appropriate dates, "Judy's little boy born" and, later on, "Judy's little girl born"). She taught me to sing alto, patiently correcting me and setting an example with her lovely voice. She was the choir's rock of ages and our resting place. She saw us through at least 4 choir directors (that I know of!), and multiple priests.

Anne was widowed in 1969, after 34 years of marriage and two daughters. She never remarried, claiming that she'd had one good husband but might not be so lucky again. Despite her loss, I never saw her without a smile on her face. Well into old age, Anne walked a mile every morning around the lake at the end of her street. I'm sure this habit contributed to her good mood and her cheerful outlook.

What can we learn from such a life lived to its fullness? I am still discovering the lessons.

At Anne's funeral, most of the mourners were members of her large, extended family. Let's face it, at her age, who has that many friends left alive?  But the service was lovely, and the homily was given by a priest who knew Anne well.  The hymns were, I think, just what Anne would have picked: How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, Alleluia, Alleluia, and one of my favorites, It Is Well With My Soul:

               When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
               When sorrows like sea billows roll;
               Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
               It is well, it is well with my soul.

Rest in peace, Anne, and rise in glory! We'll miss you, and we'll try to learn from your example.


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