Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who Will Sing for Me?

Yogi Berra, one of the world's greatest philosophers--and not a bad catcher in his time,  once said: "You should always go to other people's funerals, otherwise, they won't come to yours."  I have now been a minister for nearly 30 years now and in that time I have probably done hundreds of funerals.  I have always been there for people whenever there has been a death and have celebrated countless lives that were shared.  It is a rewarding part of my calling and a privilege to share such an intimate part of any family's journey.  But, it has often made me wonder about my own death and who would actually be there for me when my time comes to "cash in the chips."

One of my favorite old Appalachian songs--made famous by the Stanley Brothers--is the gospel tune Who Will Sing for Me?  This song is the story about a singer who sings for all the funerals in his or her community.  Then one day the singer comes to the realization that if something happens to him or her, who would sing for him or her?  This thought has crossed my mind or two over the years--and with more and more funerals of family and close friends . . . well, I wonder, who will sing for me?  The musical question as posed by the Stanley Brothers:

Often I sing for my friends
At death's cold hand I see
When I reach my journey's end
Who will sing for me

I wonder (I wonder) who
Will sing (will sing) for me
When I come the cross
of that silent sea
Who will sing for me

When crowds shall gather round
And look down on me
Will they turn and walk away
Or will they sing one song for me

So I'll sing til the end
Contented I will be
Assured that some friends
Will sing one song for me

Well, I guess in the end it really doesn't matter--I won't be there for the festivities anyways.  But I think it is human nature to wonder what sort of a funeral one will have whenever he or she finally kicks the bucket.  Don't you ever wonder what it will be like when you finally die?  

I imagine that there will be someone who steps up and agrees to put the final touches on everything and anything that was John Keener.  I only hope and pray that it will be someone who will take the time to really get to know me through those family members and friends who have been left behind--otherwise it might be a pretty dull service.  I think whatever anyone has to say about me needs to have that sense of wisdom that comes from one who was a wiseguy--a kidder--and enjoyed laughing at the irony of life.  Yet, at the same time I think it needs to be someone who can also convey the passion and fire I had for the things that I believed in. There has got to be a lot of laughter and music--some micro brews and wine--and lots of corny jokes and stories.  It needs to be a party.  Yeah, a party.  Is there anyone out there who thinks they can do me justice?

I hope so.

In the movie The Big Chill I loved how it opened with the long-time friends gathering to bury one of their friends.  (Ten points for anyone who could name the actor who portrayed the dead friend.)  I loved that when everyone was processing out of the church the organist broke out a rock and roll song--do you remember what the song was?  (Ten more points if you can name the song and the artists.)  That movie--minus all of the psychological meandering--is how I would want my life celebrated.  Here is a clue to help you:

A celebration . . . yeah, that would be good.  I will never really know who will sing for me on that day when it comes, but I am sure someone will.  My hope--my dream--is that it will be a celebration.  Yeah, I agree with Yogi, the reason I go to funerals in hope that others will come to mine!

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