In the past three months a dear friend died and a dear friend of my mother's died. Neither one was a member of organized religion and I was asked to lead the memorial services.
It has put me in mind of death as a mystery. Another friend, a priest who has also died, Jim Krings, said to me once, don't try to explain death. Don't let yourself or anyone else think they can understand it.
That was my first point in my brief opening homilette: Death is a mystery.
Secondly, I am so aware for myself that I bring to every funeral all my own past losses. Brothers, friends, my father -- they are in the background of my mind. That word loss is so short and simple but it stands for holes in our lives, missing persons, unfinished conversations.
And in the moment of feeling loss so acutely, we also feel alive. Life is at least as much a mystery as death. How did we come to be and what is our meaning? And so we are grateful. We mourn the loss and we celebrate the life.