Kathryn's amazing All Soul's liturgy reminded me of a liturgy earlier this year. I was asked to come sing for the service my parish does for those who have lost children (on the Feast of the Guardian Angels). Does not matter when (in infancy, adults, before birth), how long ago (last month, 50 years ago). To a mother now in her 90s, carefully carrying her son's photo, says something no Hallmark card can about a mother's enduring love.
Everyone brought some remembrance to place in front of the altar. Photos, baby blankets, a pair of shoes never used,a leaf. As people gathered after the eucharist to take their remembrances home, there were tears, and laughter all intermixed. And everyone took home a packet of seeds....brilliant a la Kathryn.
There is much to be said about liturgy and loss (and there is a wonderful article in last week's America on such), but I think the modern church (using the term encompassingly) has lost some of its "sacramental" sense in this context. There is something about embedding God's love in something tangible that reaches us at a deeper level. I still have the crucifix that was placed on my husband's bier, blessed as we blessed his body. It is a tangible sign of the grace of that moment, with all the grief, shock, hope and love still accessible to me in that object, which now hangs in my prayer space. I could touch it, even at those moments when I couldn't reach the intangible, the immanent.