A Memorial Family Gathering

Recently, on a pristine autumn morning, I led a Family Memorial Gathering in a private home, for a much loved 97 year old mother, grandmother and great grandmother who had died during lockdown level 4 for Covid 19.

As I drove there my eyes settled on a gracious old tree in a park, with her autumn glory fading and resting on the ground. It  reminded me of the colour and seasonality of our lives. When one lives to a great age, and it is a life well-lived, you see in the last flourish of colour and beauty – a certain fragility, the falling leaves revealing a bare, gracious elegance. Then, as we look closer, we see the signs of new life – the fullness of a new bud bulging on a bare branch, holding the exquisite DNA of new life preparing to flourish in the next turning of the seasons.

We saw something of this exquisite hope as a 5 year old boy stood and spontaneously spoke about his precious great-grandmother. Love and truth spoken with simplicity; one generation quietly picking up the baton from the one gone before. It truly was a privilege to journey with this family as they created a sacred moment to love and honour their cherished matriarch. Zoom enabled family members from across the Tasman to join and beauty and healing were woven with spoken word, laughter and tears. There was a sense of the significance and import of the moment as minds young and old absorbed the detailed memories, stories and history. Fragments of memory were captured and embedded through beautiful photos bursting with love, laughter and meaning. Threads of hope and ‘how to live well’ were woven in, waiting for the next season to be called forth in fullness; leading and guiding the generations to come.

I wrote two poems for this family – the first “This May Morn” prior to the service as I contemplated the grief this beautiful matriarch had carried in her own life. The second “Seeds of Light” as I reflected after the service.

Come and drink deeply
From this bowl
Of glistening light
Deep love unfolds

Autumn dropping
Golden leaves
Burnt orange
With those who grieve

Memories tied
Beyond the years
Coloured and softened
With love’s tears

Revealing moments
Long thought lost
Lives given for us
At great cost

Lives surrendered
To the time and day
We remember quietly
Soft falls May

Thankful for hands
That loved and toiled
Bringing good forth……
Giving bold
While filaments
Of grief
Her heart enfolds

Woven love
A heart once torn……
Weaves a golden hue
This May morn.

Seeds of light
Loving prayers
Lifted softly
Over the years

Releasing love
From those gone before
Now singing above

A song of compassion
Of courage
“Carry on!
Our love for you
It will never be

Settling in hearts
Alighting on the ground
Growing fresh love
For a family bound
Over the years
With all their hopes
Dreams and fears

A child speaks
Full heart
Abounding joy
Spoken love
Through one
Little Boy

Laughter overflowing
Abundant fun
Seeds of light
To come.