Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anna's Poem for Clara's Eulogy

As Rickey wrote in his post last week, the funeral for one of the members of our centering prayer group was on Saturday, January 17. Clara Chapman, who died of lung cancer, had asked me to write and then read a poem as my part of her eulogy. She had a special walk with the Lord, and I hope my poem, which is below, portrays some of that, Anna


small and a lover of small people,
but I don't mean short.
I mean small people like
the women who never had much,
not of money or education
and certainly not of love
or the men who matched those
women in lacking the same things.


small, but with a huge heart
that worked at filling in the gaps
for folks who carried hurt
like they carried their belongings
all lumped together in bags and backpacks
bulging at the seams.


small, but with her own hands
feeding the homeless and readily
donating the proverbial widows mite,
which I imagine Jesus multiplied
because whatever amount it was
amounted to more
in his sight.


small, and making small things,
food for friends and strangers
and dresses for Dawn her daughter,
the mystery of caring hiding in
in cake batter and hems.
small, and like Mary,
drawn to silence,
pondering these things in her heart.

small, easily overlooked in the day to day
life of this world
but today we are all paying attention
today we see that in God’s eyes
small matters.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Grace in Dying and Friendship with God

The funeral for one of the members of our centering prayer group was yesterday. Anna and I were privileged to deliver parts of her eulogy. I'm pasting in my part of the eulogy below; four of us spoke. Clara, who died of lung cancer, had asked that Anna write and then read a poem as her part of the eulogy. Anna will post her poem in a few days--Rickey

Clara Chapman: My Part of Her Eulogy

For me, Clara was a spiritual teacher, one of the most important in my life. The reason is because she modelled for me “grace in dying.” This phrase “grace in dying” is circulating now in some of the spiritual circles I move in. Because of Clara, I know what it actually looks like. It’s not just words for me.

Clara and I became spiritual friends after she got the news that her lung cancer was terminal, that she had just a year or so to live. Being the woman of God she was, she prayed hard about how to respond to her diagnosis and how to live the last days remaining to her. For many, many years, everything in her life had been dedicated to God, and this last year would be no different. In fact, it would be more so.

I am blessed that one of things God led Clara to do in her last year was to join the All Saints’ contemplative prayer group, which I facilitate. That’s how I came to know her.

Although contemplative prayer was new to her, she took to it, as the cliché says, like a duck to water.

One of the statements in her obituary that means a lot to me is that among her many activities of service and worship, she “especially looked forward to the Centering Prayer group on Monday evenings.”

A time of silent prayer is one of the major components of those evenings. As most of you know, Clara was always thinking of others, and she almost quit coming to Centering Prayer in her last few months because she didn’t want to be a distraction to us, she said. Those last few months she couldn’t go out without her portable oxygen machine, which was a bit noisy. She needed it to breathe, and she was afraid its noise would take away from our silent prayer time.

But it was just the opposite. Having Clara in our midst, with her courage and her wholesale commitment to God, took us along with her deeper into the presence of the Lord. It was clear to us that she was growing closer and closer to him, surrendering more and more completely to him, and her presence with us on Monday evenings and the noise of that portable oxygen machine had a sacramental effect on us. It brought us along with her into a closer and deeper relationship with God.

As a woman of God, Clara had many dimensions: faithful worship, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, volunteering at the thrift store, Sidewalk Sunday School, and many others. But for me, none was more important than her example of friendship with God. Clara was a woman who truly knew the Lord.

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