Tuesday, April 08, 2008

the day of the funeral

weather wise it was a bright, yet cold day ... the flag in the churchyard was at half mast ... arriving mourners got out of their cars and nodded at each other ... or if they hadn't seen my aunt and uncle yet - they wept and hugged them ... it was a heavy day emotionally ... even the children stood silently by, no running or loud voices ... just quiet ... my cousin had been a favourite with all his many nieces and nephews ...

the old wooden church had been the centre of my families life for generations ... the last time i had been in that church, was for a wedding ... today i followed the finnish tradition of laying my flowers by the casket and saying a word ... i read the words of comfort from a loving God ... Rev 21:4 "and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away" ... of course i spoke the words in finnish and they were just as comforting to me - because God's word heals in every language known to man ...

the service itself was scripturally sound and the minister spoke with warmth and faith in a God who loves us ... i was blessed by it ... as others were too ... we let our tears silently flow and opened up our hearts for God's healing to begin ...

when it was time to begin the last walk with my cousin, the flowers were picked up from the church alter by the children and then adults too (there were so many flowers) then taken outside to form an honour guard ...

the newly fallen snow cleaned up the world around us - purity was what came to my mind ... and the path we walked on, just gleamed ...

we all sang a hymn (well i hummed - since i didn't know the words in finn) ... and again took the flowers we had retrieved in the churchyard and placed them on the gravesite ...

afterwards we went to the church hall and had a time of sharing that lasted almost 3 hours ... there was all kinds of food (lovingly made by my aunt, cousins and neighbours) ... and more hymns to sing ... more hugging ... more sharing ... as well as acceptance that this was my cousin's time to go ... that God numbers our days ... and though we don't understand now - one day we will ...

i went to minister to my finnish family ... instead, i found that i was ministered too ... these sweet dear folk buried a love one with such respect and honour ... and God was woven so naturally into the day and the events ...

(note: all pictures, except the one of the finnish flag, were taken by a photographer that captured the day for the family - and also generously gave me a cd of it - he had been a friend of my cousins ... also, i notice that i had put rev 21:3 on an earlier post - it was actually rev 21:4 that i read at church)







16 comments:

Flip Flop Floozie said...

What another great post..two in a row..smiling!!
I loved this blog this morning because it had so much in it that is so very right. The snow that you mentioned reminded you of purity as you walked down that path..the last walk with your cousin. I thought of you while you were gone and with this post now it is nice to see just what you did.
Also it is funny how you go to minister to someone and you come away being taken care of yourself. That is so right!! I have been in that situation before so know how you feel..God worked that out for you.
Sandy

Cathy said...

Thank you for the beautiful report about the funeral, Saija. It really touched me, especially your reading of the scripture. I'm so glad you were able to go.

Mimi said...

what a beautiful service for your cousin...I am sure that it meant a great deal to your family to have you there to share the time with them...
and what a beautiful cemetery surrounded by trees!!
thank you for sharing the pictures with us...
Mimi

Debra said...

Saija.... I am so glad you arrived home safely and thanks so much for sharing the beautiful service with us.... Wishing you blessings and comfort.... Hugs, Debra

Pat said...

It certainly seems that there is no doubt you were just where the Lord wanted you to be. He was your travel agent, your source of comfort, and companion..your ever present friend.
Thank you for sharing the pictures - the church and surroundings are so beautiful.

Felisol said...

Dear Saija,
what a blessing that you were able to go to Finland. Strong bonds are tied as such occasions.
How your cousins family must have felt honored and strengthened by you and your aunt coming.
To be well rooted and share happiness and sorrow must be the most valuable
goods here on earth.
God bless Leo and yourself
From Felisol

Nancy said...

What a lovely service, I like the picture of the last walk with everyone standing in honor holding the flowers. This is something I have never seen here in the States.. How nice you could be there.. Hugs to you

Jammie J. said...

It's funny how that works, isn't it? You go to give, but end up receiving AND giving. Glad you made it home safely. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing such a personal time for your family!! I have recently read some history about Finland that gives me even greater respect for her people!! So glad you were able to go and be there!
Blessings!!
Elizabeth

Penless Thoughts said...

Thanks for sharing. That is a wonderful way to handle the flowers and participating. Never seen that done.
Susan

Maggie Ann said...

So sad, yet 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints'. The honor guard is so very special and what a thoughtful thing to have a CD for family. How thrilling to have a relationship with God that is alive and real! I've been blessed to read your post and see the pictures...love, Maggie Ann ~~~May God continue to heal every aching heart and we know he will....thoughout the days and years ahead.

Daughter of the King said...

Wonderful pictures ,very touching.
Thank you for sharing.
Deby

Saija said...

it was so emotionally charged - yet, the dignity and respect of the mourning family really left an imprint on my heart ...

blessings to you guys ...

auntibeck said...

The photos are amazing...I'm so glad you went and had that experience.

Catherine said...

It looks like the funeral was a beautiful tribute to your cousin. May he rest in peace.

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