Monday, July 24, 2006
Available for a Limited Time: Pre-Plan Your Funeral, and Don't Forget the Cheese!
(This is a casket from Costco. Who knew you could get one from Costco?)
I was listening to my favorite songs while I did my hour-long walk today. By the time I got to the last one, my spirit was so full of awe and so “high,” I was almost floating down the streets. If Jacob’s ladder had appeared in front of me, I might have climbed right on up. The lyric that moved me was “Better is one day in your house/Better is one day on your courts/Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere . . .” I was just kind of transported mentally, I guess. But I nearly got transported physically, too, because I stepped out in front of a car. I almost got bumped into the heavenly courts. Yikes.
My feet no longer traipsing on air but firmly planted on the gray cement in front of me, I realized that while one day in His house is better than a thousand here, I’d still like one or two here just to tie things up. Actually, I think I’d like a thousand days here because Kristin will be old enough to graduate in five years, and that’s about 1,000 days. I’d really like to see her graduate. But I may not, and I think about that possibility every single day of my life. I could go “just like that;” all it takes is one distracted, goofy misstep.
I’m not morbid, but death is one of those momentous evens like your first date, graduation, first job, marriage, and having babies. I thought a lot about all of those milestones before they happened, so is it that weird to think about death?
I’ve planned my funeral many times. I don’t specify things like what clothes I’d like to wear because I want that lid shut. There’s no way anyone could tackle this hair and make it look right. No, this is bigger than nail polish and flowers. It’s my last opportunity to make a life statement, and pretty much everyone will have to listen because it’s what people do at funerals; they get serious, sensitive, and quiet—the ultimate captive audience!
Actually, the specifics of my plans change all the time, but mentally composing meaningful messages is good therapy because I then measure my life against what I’m saying. It causes me to ask, “Am I living out my personal mission statement? Do I practice what I preach at my funeral? What do I need to do to correct my course?” After I’ve “been” to one of my funerals, I usually end up calling my elderly parents, thanking them for raising me and telling them I love them. I gather up my family in a big group hug and say “I love you guys so much!” to which they say, “Oh no. She has died again.” No, that doesn’t really happen, but I manage to get a hold of each one and have an intimate moment with them whether they like it or not (teenagers). My little dog always likes it when I return from the dead because we celebrate together with cheese.
So, for my funeral I’m going to write a big, long letter saying something really profound, and have my “personal favorites” CD copied and handed out as party favors. That’s right—party favors. It’s going to be a happy funeral because that’s part of the plan. I’m telling my family, “You can have that traditional dinner after the funeral if you want, but don’t forget to take some cheese home to the dog, because I won’t really be dead, and she and I have an understanding: life is good, and should be celebrated, preferably with cheese.”
This is a man who knew how to throw a funeral:
Winston Churchill had planned his funeral, which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral. He included many of the great hymns of the church and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of "Taps," the universal signal that says the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: As Churchill instructed, as soon as "Taps" was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of "Reveille"--"It's time to get up. It's time to get up. It's time to get up in the morning." That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be "Taps," it will be "Reveille." 1.
And that will be true for every true Christian!
1. John Claypool in "Leadership," Vol. 12, No. 1.
From John Mark Ministries