Sunday, April 05, 2009

Funeral outside of Time and Space

Friday night I joined about 40 people from across the country (and one in France) in an online funeral for Lee. I haven't yet organized my reflections on that experience, but Ann Fontaine has written a fine story about it at the Episcopal Café. Ann writes:

Most of us only knew him through his insightful and sometimes humorous comments on our blogs, on Facebook and other places in the 'net. We felt somewhat adrift with our grief as we could not go to where his service was being held in Emmanuel Church, Bristol, Virginia.
Deacon Larry Shell of Northern Michigan organized an online service for us. Using his blog and Facebook we followed the Burial Office of the Book of Common Prayer, listened to music chosen for the occasion, said prayers together in our many distant homes, and heard a sermon that had been given by The Rev Mark Frazier at his service in Bristol.
Some would probably say - it can't work - but it did and we were able to be together virtually when we could not be present in Virginia.
Ann's article provides links to the online chapel, music, readings, and sermon, as well as links to several bloggers' essays. Be sure to check out Kirkepiscatoid's reflections here. You can also hear Father Frazier's sermon here.

Sometimes, I worry that this Internet thing leads to too much depersonalization. But this was a time when I saw again how it can be a powerful tool for community. I certainly felt I was "with" my online friends in some way that was real though not tangible. I had some sense that we were indeed the mystical body of Christ. And isn't that what the church is?

Saturday I woke feeling that I have turned a corner in my grief. I have found a level of peace about Lee that I did not have before. And surely that is part of what good liturgy does; it moves us to a different place.

I give thanks to Larry for conceiving the service and making it happen, to those who provided the readings and music, and to my friends who joined me in the service.


Thanks to Shelley ("Pseudopiskie") for the photo of the columbarium at Emmanuel in Bristol, where Lee's ashes were placed. She traveled all the way from northwestern Pennsylvania to be present for Lee's funeral. Look for stories and photos on her blog.

8 Comments:

Blogger FranIAm said...

I was not able to be there but I have read all these accounts and have felt connected in prayer with you all.

Something is happening in terms of how the Holy Spirit moves and works in this technological age.

Of course that might be better phrased that the Holy Spirit's work is always there, consistent and the same. We merely awaken to awareness of this.

4/05/2009 8:34 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Yes, maybe the Internet makes the presence of the Holy Spirit even more apparent, maybe we were just to used to certain ways to be aware of the Holy Spirits dwelling among us?

4/05/2009 10:07 AM  
Blogger Frank D. Myers said...

Thanks for the several posts regarding Lee Davenport, another of those good people it would have been good to know via the Internet or otherwise. Your tributes and those of others are beautiful!

Beyond that (trying to avoid self-centeredness here when others are grieving), reading all of this has grabbed me by the back of the neck and shaken me back into appropriate perspective. It's fairly easy to believe that when God closes one door He/She opens another, but more difficult to discern where that door leads and be patient while waiting for that to become evident.

I've followed your blog for a long time, as an Iowan should a Missourian, and am always refreshed by it. God bless!

4/05/2009 1:28 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

This has been a hard week for you, Lisa, because of so many things in the story that open deep wounds. You have spoken before of a period in your life that felt like the licking flames of Hell. Lee's coming out process and how it was received with mixed reviews among his various family members had to touch you in a slicing, cutting way. That was before we even get to the brass tacks of "Loss."

To grieve Lee had to push you to grieve for yourself, too, because of all the ways it can "hook" you.

But to participate in a liturgical service, live and online, seems to have brought you the first nugget of healing that the Holy Spirit does through liturgy anyway, as well as the fact it can happen online, same as in a church, affirms that our cyber-life with Lee WAS real, and worthy of our grief from the loss.

I have seen you begin to heal over the weekend just from your FB comments and blog comments...as will we all, in our own way.

I think for me, the power of connection that the internet reveals has moved me from feeling that the Holy Spirit was some vacuous ghostly intangible to something very very real and tangible. This week has particularly made me understand the Holy Spirit as a solid, real entity.

Peace, friend.

4/05/2009 2:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Fran, I know you would have been there if you could! No need to explain.

I agree: Some sort of new wind is blowing. I remember recently when you asked us to post on your parish blog about how the blogosphere has touched us. I wish I could see the presentation you offered after all that. If it's online somewhere, could you post it? I think you were sensing this before I was.

4/05/2009 6:14 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Göran, you may be right. Maybe the Spirit was in this all along, in ways I never saw.

4/05/2009 8:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for "uncloaking," Frank.

And thanks for your kind words. I'm sure I haven't done justice for Lee. ...

Yes, I think Lee's death has given many of us a new or refreshed perspective. I was grateful for Dan's reflection about a renewed appreciation for life.

I hope you'll visit again, Frank.

4/05/2009 8:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You're right, KirkE. Lee's death kicked up a lot of stuff for me. About my own coming out. About other untimely deaths I have endured. Hard stuff.

But I know my "hard stuff" is no more difficult than most people my age must endure. By this time, we've all endured things like this.

YES! The funeral helped. And -- as you said -- it affirmed that our connection with Lee was real, even though it wasn't physical/tangible.

I'm glad you're hearing the healing in my FB comments and elsewhere. I do believe I'm getting better.

I can't say anything more articulate than what you wrote:
I think for me, the power of connection that the internet reveals has moved me from feeling that the Holy Spirit was some vacuous ghostly intangible to something very very real and tangible. This week has particularly made me understand the Holy Spirit as a solid, real entity.
Yes, I'm moving in that direction myself. Thanks for saying it so well.

4/05/2009 8:48 PM  

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