I was thinking of that question after meeting with a family to plan an upcoming memorial service. One of my â€œstandardâ€ questions for a familyâ€™s funeral preparation is to ask about any special readings from the Bible, or other sources, theyâ€™d like to include in the ceremony.
Sometimes I get a quick answer. Often, itâ€™s the obvious: Psalm 23.
Occasionally itâ€™s popular, like the non-scriptural account of walking along the beach with God (or Jesus), but seeing only one set of sand-marked footsteps. Google â€œfootstepsâ€ and â€œbeachâ€ and â€œGodâ€ and youâ€™ll find a host of versions, and a confusion of sources, for that reading. A few years ago, in a month with three or four memorial services, I remember at least two different requests for the â€œfootsteps on the beachâ€ reading. The requests came from people of extraordinarily different backgrounds. But, each in their own way, the words had mattered to those individuals and families.
On rare occasions, Iâ€™ve been handed the deceased personâ€™s Bible and itâ€™s very clear, on a well-worn page with an underlined verse, or a faded newspaper clipping tucked into the pages, what held meaning for them. Equally rare, a member of the family voices the hope that a favorite reading of theirs is included. With these choices, the Bible competes with the likes of Kahil Gibran, Oprah Winfrey and Buddha.
Most typically, the family has no â€œfavoriteâ€ to suggest. They look at me and basically say, â€œYou choose.â€ Continue reading →