I am astonished
How a human body can be
Diminished by death and then
Reduced by fire to common elements.
Slowly and insidiously
Disease and age robbed dignity and being
From her until there was nothing left but a shell
Of who she was, of what she was made,
Stolen away is
her constituting entity, the very aspect of soul.
Nothing is left but a breathing shell
Asleep and drifting between two worlds
The quintessential essence of her being left
Ungrounded until death comes to claim it.
Then the fire
And what remains
Is a heavy urn of ashes to be scattered
Cast into the strong autumn wind.
Dark and gritty, bits of bone not all consumed
They are greasy and smell
Earthen, metallic, burnt and they cling to my hands.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, they float on the wind
And drift in the thin space between two realities.
I am astonished that we can reduce
A human life down to a handful of ashes and a short homily.
Where did that baby go, full of life and promise?
Where did that young girl scamper off to, full of sunshine and curiosity?
Where did that young woman walk off to, her heels clicking happily on the pavement?
Where did that young wife dance to, full of her beloved?
Where did that mother go, loving her children into adulthood?
Did she too drift off into the wind,
Diminished and reduced down to her essence?
As the wind caresses my face, I feel the gentleness
Of her hand, the laughter in her voice, the softness of her hair.
The sky sparkles with the incredible blueness of her eyes
And I sense her presence.
Her ashes float in the circle of mourners until
They fill the void between us and we can
Come together and mourn her loss
And fill in the blanks left
By the brevity of our words.
As we did in Communion moments ago,
We can re-member the Body, we can join in unity of song,
Singing the harmony of body and soul, spirit and flesh.
We remember her life and thus do honor her spirit.