I went to the first Memorial Vespers I’ve ever attended this week, on All Soul’s Day. It is a ceremony in which all those members of the parish who have died are remembered and prayed for. The priest called out the names one at a time and a representative of the family lit a candle. There were songs and prayers in between sets of names. There were also candles lit for parishoners and their family members who have died in the more distant past, soldiers and civilians killed in war, silent petitions for loved ones.
My father-in-law lit the candle for his wife.
I spent most of the time I wasn’t praying wishing I’d just left my children in their parish school of religion classes. I didn’t see that they were getting much out of the service. We had accidentally set in the worst possible place – not realizing most of the service would take place next to the baptismal font instead of the lecturn – so the children could not see one single thing. I assumed they were bored and not taking much in. Bedtime was nearing and it had been an active, busy day.
Then I noticed Farmer Boy. He was holding Grandpa’s hand. He was laying his head on Grandpa’s arm. And he was listening.
After the service, Shooter stood with his hand on Grandpa’s shoulder. Then Cowgirl piped up, in her six-year-old confidence on addressing how things are “Grandpa, are you lonely?”
She asked with no reserve, in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Well, sometimes I do. But it helps when you are here,” he answered.
“You should come over to our house more, Grandpa.” Cowgirl suggested.
“Yeah, we are always happy to have you, Gramps,” Added Shooter.
“And you know my Mom?” Cowgirl pitched, “She can even cut you up some apples!”