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Oh Happy Day!

As a kid, I had two different families. My father’s side was your average Irish/Italian-Catholic family, my mother’s a good southern-American-Protestant family.

I can remember the first time I realized they were different. I was maybe 7, attending Presbyterian Bible school (as I did many summers) and I was asked “I know what we believe about the trinity, what is it that your people believe?” At 7 I was shocked. I didn’t realize there was a difference other than in the building where we went to Church (and that the protestants ate regular bread and grape juice for communion).

As I got older, I noticed another huge difference. I went to my first funerals in elementary school for my great uncle and my uncle. I noticed how sad and sober people were. How upset they were that someone they loved was gone. What would they do without these people?

I was shocked when I went to my Catholic great-aunt’s funeral when I was 10. After saying the rosary, the family got together, and they were….laughing? They were praising Auntie and the life she led. They were thankful that the Lord took her away to live a better life than she could in her old age.

I was…confused.

Through 30 years of my life I’ve lived with this bias. Maybe it was just the perception of my grandmother and her family, but protestant funerals were more “woe is I” and “we’ll miss you dearly.” Catholic funerals were more about celebrating a life well-lived and knowing the person is in a much better place looking down on us and taking care of us.

Then, this weekend, I attended my first Baptist funeral.

My perception was completely rocked! Not only is a loved one in a better place, but we’ll be damned if we won’t be there with them one day! Literally.

The gospel choir (who stood up front facing us so we could see their joyful faces) lifted us up with a power that could only be godsent.

In college I became accostumed to a type of Catholic service called “Praise and Worship”…we’ve got nothing compared to this.

My boyfriend’s friends even remarked through the rest of the day…”If I knew church was like that, I might actually go.”

I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn’t expect to be lifted up in the way that church embraced all of us, and showed us the brighter side of life. After many tears were shed when the casket was closed (I swear I was good until I made the mistake of looking left right as Christopher said softly “Goodbye Daddy.”) it was a comfort to so many to be reminded of exactly why we were in that church.

Not for ourselves. Not to mourn a loss. But to celebrate a life well lived and a life — that was made completely evident by those who attended — that touched many other lives through his own actions, and through the love he passed on to his children.

Goodbye Daddy. We know we’ll join you one day.

C’mon and talk about the happy days!

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Categories: Life Lessons Tags: ,
  1. gretchen
    December 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Mare bear, just beautiful.

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