OF ALL of the parts of his job as a minister, Paul liked funerals the most. Of course, “like” isn’t the right word. No one “likes” having to perform a funeral. Yet ever since his wife, Sara, died, Paul found funerals, and only funerals, truly satisfying. Though he was an introvert by nature, he had always been a compassionate and thoughtful minister. Even as a young man just starting out in his ministry, he intuitively grasped when to offer comforting words and when to allow a silence. He had a stock of memorial prayers that made people cry and smile with private memories in the right balance. You could say he had developed the craft and had a good funeral technique.
After Sara died, however, Paul felt the full weight of performing funerals. He became part of a fraternity of grief and understood all the emotions of the person in front of him. He remembered the small gestures: the offers of food, the shared memories, the shoulders he cried on. He came to believe that he could give sermons for the rest of his life and it would never have as much meaning as holding a recent widow’s hand and letting her cry for as long as she needed. It was the one time he still felt blessed to be a minister, to have the opportunity to know he was making a difference.
–Angel by Laura Lee published by Itineris Press Release: September 27, 2011