Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Monday, October 02, 2006

Prayers for the Departed

My cousin Aaron died about a month ago, and my Great Uncle Stu died last night. I haven't had any other friends or family die since July 4th a year ago when my grandfather died. Having two people die in such close proximity to each other has had me saying prayers for death and healing a lot more frequently than usual, and really thinking more about the importance of friends, family, and community.

In Africa I was told by several Baha'is in remote villages that even though they believed in the Baha'i Faith they did not want to become Baha'is and leave their churches because there were not enough other Baha'is close by, and when they died there would be no one to sing at their funerals.

I'm not sure I ever really understood the reasoning behind that until lately.

I've heard so often that the friends and family that bring food after a funeral are really a godsend, because the family is too stricken, stressed, or depressed to think about cooking and eating. And I've recently heard how the Baha'i community opened their homes to allow my family to stay with them in the days before my cousin's funeral. I heard how the Baha'is helped with the funeral and one member sang a song during the services. Even from a distance these things are really touching for me. It fills me with a lot of wistful happiness to know that people who are strangers to me could show such love, hospitality and warmth towards those I love and have loved. It helps me believe that the world is a little less cold and distant than it often feels.

I understand now that to a person in an African village, who sees death far more often than I do, who sees the women dressed in white every week, singing funerary songs, the prospect of dying and having no community available to sing songs at one's funeral and help their family to cope with the loss could be a much bigger deterrent than I had ever imagined.

I won't be able to attend my Uncle Stu's funeral this Wednesday, nor will many of those who loved him... But perhaps I will sing anyways.

O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions!

Verily, I beseech thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.

O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount.


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