My younger brother suggested “the old farm” where our family had lived decades before. And the rest of us agreed that it made more sense than trying to get everyone together by the ocean, as Mom had talked about a couple of times. She loved the warmth of the sandy beaches in Florida, even though she never lived there.
But it would have been a strategic challenge, to say the least, for all of us to make it to Florida. So, we all decided to meet at “the old farm” after Mom’s memorial.
Spreading the ashes was a weird experience for me.
Partly because I’m the quintessential skeptic. So, I always wonder if the ashes of a loved one are truly the ashes of a loved one. And are they the sum total? Or just a token? But I managed my skepticism. And we proceeded with the emotional ceremony.
Fortunately, the main attendees, for the ceremony, are/were Christians. So, we know/knew that Mom wasn’t actually there. Because we know/knew Mom believed in Jesus as her savior, and she went to live in Heaven the second her last breath left her body.
But, for many (far too many) people, those ashes are holy…or sacred. And the ritual of spreading them is an opportunity to reconnect with “the universe.”
I found a “prayer,” for the ashes ceremony, that’s an illustration of this. And the person who came up with the “prayer” told readers to feel free to revise it “as you see fit” and use it as you like. The “prayer” starts out with “You were called to return to the Essential, to the Infinity, far too soon.”
Then, the “prayer” continues by talking about the location: “And today, at this appointed time, I declare this place sacred. I now take [holy waters] from this [lake] to purify my mind so it may be clear and quiet; a vessel for wisdom. Wise in knowing it will not ever know.”
To give credit where credit is due, at least the writer recognizes we are body, soul, and mind (aka spirit). But “wise in knowing it will never know” is silly. Because it cancels itself out. C’mon man.
And then the “prayer” continues with “Oh Infinite and Unknowable of Which We Are, I now command to you ashes from our beloved [name] whose life-force you so swiftly reclaimed to rejoin.” (Note: I’m sure the writer meant “commend” and not “command.”)
Yeah, that’s disjointed, discombobulated, and dysfunctional humanism disguised as “spiritual.”
You and I are not the “Infinite and Unknowable.”
As a matter of fact, not even the one true, living, loving God of all creation is infinite AND unknowable. Because, over the course of thousands of years He wrote a book to make Himself unmistakably knowable to us. And while He’s infinite from eternity past through eternity future, you and I had a beginning. So, we’re not infinite. AND, we’re not unknowable. Because God knew us even before we were born.
So, to get back to spreading the ashes of my Mom…it was a ceremony of remembrance. And it was emotional. And it was one last time to feel an earthly connection to her. But we didn’t declare the location to be sacred ground. And we didn’t need to purify ourselves with any “holy waters.” We simply said our last goodbye.
And I thank God for the rest He gives
To me and everybody who lives
In the knowledge of the sacrifice
That provides the Way to be born twice.
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