January 22, 2019

A Funeral Homily: The Soup of Life

A Funeral Homily: The Soup of Life

It’s very nearly winter, and the days are growing darker and colder.

I know you are feeling today like your lives have grown darker and colder as well, because you have lost your loved one. It is right for you to feel this way, because she was a warm, brightening presence in your lives for many, many years. I hope I can bring you some comfort today.

At this time of year, people often turn to warm, comforting foods to nourish and sustain them through the wintry days and nights. And that is what I would to talk about with you today.

One type of food that I enjoy in the colder days is soup. There are many different kinds of soup, and one of the great things about soup is that people can be creative when making it. They can add ingredients that they like, season it according to their tastes, leave the broth thin or thicken it as they wish, and in general, experiment with it in a variety of ways until it comes out just right. Then, what a pleasure it is to fill a bowl with steaming hot soup and enjoy it, maybe with some homemade bread. It not only warms our bodies, it comforts our souls.

I would like to suggest to you that you, along with your loved one, have been cooking a wonderful, nourishing soup for many years now. Your life together is a rich, hearty soup. She is gone now, but the soup you have been making together is still simmering on the stove.

The main ingredient of this soup, the stock as it were, is love. Over the years, you have learned to love and care for each other in a thousand different ways. The stories you have told me and pictures you have displayed here in the chapel today give evidence of the deep affection you have shared as you traveled through the various seasons and circumstances of life together.

This love-based soup has many varied and wonderful ingredients. It is filled with memories of both good times and challenging times, experiences you treasure as you recall them, and experiences you are simply thankful you got through. You learned lessons by going through these things together, your hearts became more tender and mature, and the flavor of your lives together became richer and more full-bodied.

You have also seasoned this soup with your own unique relational ways. You have spoken unique words and phrases to each other. You have your own special stories. You treasure secrets your family alone has shared. And there are the individual quirks that make your family unique. No soup tastes exactly like your soup; it has a taste and texture all its own.

Now, in the light of your loved one’s death, you are adding a new ingredient: your tears and your grief. At first you might think this will ruin your soup, turning it bitter. However, eventually you will find that even your sadness adds something special that all soups must contain. For it is a simple fact that none of us can make soup in this world without adding tears and grief to it. It is a common, necessary ingredient in human soup. It is something we all share.

Nevertheless, your particular tears and your grief are unique to you, and they add a flavor to your soup that is unlike any other. Although it shares things in common with the soups others make, your grief has a unique character and it makes your soup something no one else can ever duplicate.

Oh, and there is one more thing. An essential ingredient of this soup is something invisible and mysterious. It is the constant presence and love of God. It is God who gave you and your loved ones life, who brought you together, who allowed you to have all these experiences together. It is in God’s care that your loved one now rests. And God is with you as well, to add richness and nourishment to the soup you will continue to share in your lives together until the you are reunited in God’s new creation.

And so, in the long winter months to come, I hope you will share and serve this soup often. Savor it together. Let it comfort and warm you. Let it nourish you and strengthen you. When you are feeling sad, fix yourself a bowl and relish the love, the memories, and the unique taste and texture of the soup you have created in your life together. Feel the love and caring presence of the God who nourishes you through this hearty soup.

I pray that this special meal — this soup of life that you have made and will keep making — will warm and sustain you in the seasons to come, especially when the days and nights grow dark and cold.

Comments

  1. Susan Dumbrell says:

    My mother never made soup. Her traditions were few. Not much has been passed on. It was not her nature to share.
    I could elaborate but I prefer to look at the present and the future.

    I have tried to create new memories and traditions for my children and my grandchildren so that they will remember Grandma Polly’s soup and other delicacies, particularly the love which I missed but they deserve from me. A gift I freely give.

    Susan

  2. Ronald Avra says:

    This family soup is something that has to be closely watched over. It is all too easy for excessively hurtful things to find their way into the concoction and ferment a poisonous brew. It can be necessary to empty the pot and try to start anew.

  3. Norma Cenva says:

    Excellent post Chaplain Mike!
    Good soup and good bread is one of those duos that makes life in this world well worth living.

  4. Christiane says:

    “An essential ingredient of this soup is something invisible and mysterious. It is the constant presence and love of God. It is God who gave you and your loved ones life, who brought you together, who allowed you to have all these experiences together. It is in God’s care that your loved one now rests. And God is with you as well, to add richness and nourishment to the soup you will continue to share in your lives together until the you are reunited in God’s new creation.”

    good words, Chaplain Mike

    it’s been almost four years since we suddenly lost a dear loved-one, and we have felt ‘the constant presence of God’ which ‘cares’ for us in our grief, or we could not have borne it

    can’t explain this phenomenon, but your words ‘something invisible and mysterious’ come close . . . . how do you explain a pervasive sense of ‘being cared for’ in the midst of terrible grief? But it’s there. Without doubt, it’s there.