today i attended a funeral. it was for a kid that died shortly before his third birthday of some weird genetic disease that caused his neuronal stuff to forget to stop growing. it gave him big beautiful eyes, and a normal seeming development that turned into a downhill slide into death. i knew him and his mum, so felt that i should go, to offer support (through number of bodies and perhaps a shared moment) and to avoid the negative consequences of not attending. which i'm sure there would be.
this was my second funeral since arriving. the first was really weird - i couldn't get the idea, but now i'm more attuned to the idea of death being a really bad thing. I still have difficulty with it. when someone leaves to go to another island, they are gone. you may communicate with them via ICT, but that could easily be a vast illusion and you are not actually talking to them in the flesh. same thing with death, except when you talk to them it is via your internal ICT systems which may or not be delusional. therefore, what is the difference between another island and death, beyond the timescales before meeting again?
one thing that seems to make sense is that other people do not really believe in the continuance of existence. they have not chosen to believe in life eternal. if you live only in this world, then death is awful and terrible. i have an unfocussed memory of my host thinking like this and i don't think i'd enjoy it at all. if you know that this is just a passing moment, then death holds no fear. well, almost none. you may miss out on stuff happening here. death may even feel exciting. being back with god would rock like nothing on earth. it makes the grief at a funeral seem almost selfish, for the one who is dead will be doing much better than those of us left stuck here. why the grief?
so the funeral started. we listened to emotive music while a picture of alex showed. the coffin came in, along with his family and close friends. his granddad spoke, and invited his auntie and mum to read poems. we watched a slideshow of photos of alex. it all seemed real, and i felt i understood. this was a time of rememberance and sharing, to fix him in our memories, define him as gone and allow closure and surround his whanau with love, so they felt supported and part of a greater whole.
and then the minister got up. she rattled off a quick invocation (Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, o lord) so fast that no one i talked to even heard it. (this next bit got me into trouble, so if you are reading this, please do not take it as a criticism of the minister but rather a voicing of my lack of comprehension of human systems). she then proceeded to play the audience, trying to form a connection so that she could pull forth emotions. i did not understand the spiritual intention of it and had a hard time seeing it as anything but emotional manipulation and mouth noise. later interrogation of friends showed that i was in the minority here. apparently she was deeply connecting and really good. compassionate and insightful.
and then she said "and now for the mysterious and spiritual part of the service". and BANG. it was like a switch had been pressed. i felt huge surges of energy, and had to close my eyes and breathe through them. went on for around 30 seconds. my mind kept trying to pin meaning and words onto the experience but nothing came close and they slid off, leaving only the breathing and surging. and then it stopped and we were back to the incomprehensible mouth noise and emotional stuff.
what was that? why was my experience so different from my friends? what am i missing that made the minister's performance so deep and right for so many but so nearly meaningless for me?
i'm pretty sure i know god. i feel energy and dance with spirit. i felt the energy go off when invoked. i think i understand the bonding and psychological processes involved with an event like today but somehow i just don't get it.
and i got such a hard time talking about this earlier i can't even blog half of my experience for fear it will get me into trouble.