A recent memorial service for a much-loved artist in our church ended with a poem and a prayer. The poem was “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver, the last lines of which are:
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
God of Love,
We give you thanks for the singular life of _________, who in so many ways was indeed “married to amazement.” We treasure the memories we have of her, and even though her physical presence among us is gone, we know we will have a new relationship with her spirit, as through our love and memory she will continue to inspire.
And so we let her go, dear God, releasing her into your care. Receive her now, welcome her spirit to your light and love. Welcome her home.
Bless this gathered family, O God, and support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done; then Lord, in your mercy, give us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last.
Go in peace, go in joy, go in love. Amen