The Only Heathen in the Church

Or, at least that’s what it felt like. Exactly one week ago today, I stood in front of the multitude who showed up for my grandfather’s funeral to deliver the words written at my grandparents’ request. I was on the program with three (yes, 3) good Southern Baptist preachers and a younger guy destined for seminary school, none of which found it remotely amusing that I myself am – technically – an ordained minister. Really, no sense of humor…

To go back to the beginning, last Thursday night I dreamed of my mother. It’s something that I rarely do, but it inevitably leaves me feeling a bit off kilter the next day. On my way to work Friday morning, I received the news that my grandfather had passed away during the night. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but then again I’m not sure death can ever truly be anticipated either. It certainly set my calendar on a totally new trajectory. I booked my plane ticket and headed east on Saturday morning.

I had known for some time that I would likely be speaking at the funeral, but I hadn’t written anything down yet – partially from not knowing where to begin and partially from a superstition of writing a eulogy before it was absolutely necessary. Saturday night, it became pressingly necessary. After struggling to find words that rang true, I reread my post from last year on my grandparents’ love story. Upon reading that post, I decided that there could be no more fitting thing than sharing my own (slightly edited) story of their great love.

Public speaking is certainly not my favorite activity, but I can do it when the occasion calls for it. I was so nervous – and desperately trying not to cry – but I made it through. The other guys gave their mini-sermons and spoke about how happy my grandfather is now in Heaven, and what a religious man he was (both true for sure); I spoke of my memories and didn’t quote a single Bible verse. I’ve never been more proud (smile).

Afterwards, I had an unexpected number of people tell me how moved they were by my words and, much to my delight, do exactly as I had requested that afternoon – share their own stories about that great man. I found peace in those stories. I will miss my grandfather dearly, but I know that wherever the afterlife takes us, he is there waiting. And thanks to that dream-visit, I know he’s in the best possible company, with my mom. I’ve lost him physically yet gained another guardian angel. And I will always have those wonderful memories of our time together.

Of course, not to be outdone, one of the preachers did get in the parting shot – as he was wishing me good-bye, he assured me that he would be “praying for [me] a husband.” TouchΓ©. (smile)

I’ve decided to post the text of my speech on the next page of this post. I’m doing this for posterity, and to share my memories of him. It only seems right, seeing as how this blog helped me find my words to begin with.

9 thoughts on “The Only Heathen in the Church

  1. Pingback: Life Lately: Keeping Options Open | PonderTheIrrelevant

    • Thank you, I appreciate the kind words!
      I admit that the title doesn’t go as well without the full story, but I just couldn’t bring myself to change it or to pull the focus from the positive to the less positive. Let’s just say I have…interesting…relationships with the preachers involved and that culture in general. They never fail to make me feel like a heathen, especially if I dare disagree with their *ahem* opinions. So I was proud that I was able to honor my grandpa’s memory instead of preaching a sermon. There was definitely a notable disconnect between us all, but I think that’s part of the reason I was asked to speak in the first place πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, my condolences. It’s difficult losing someone so special but the memories are so very wonderful that you described. I am sure he is very proud of you for representing his life so well with these stories! I love the special bond with grandparents. So glad you have these wonderful memories to keep you strong.

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