Thursday, July 15, 2010

Full life = full house

This afternoon, yours truly had the sad obligation to attend the memorial service of a dear family friend.

It was held in a little Methodist church near the Leu Botanical Gardens here in Orlando.

Given the turnout, it could have been held in one of the area megachurches.

I arrived about 15 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin, only to find a line of folks waiting to get inside. Said line wrapped itself around the block, patiently sweltering in the summertime heat.

When I finally made it into the vestibule . . . and the AIR CONDITIONING . . . the pastor came swooping down the aisle to seize the guest register. I guessed it was to blame for the line, and quickly scribbled my signature before she slammed it shut and told everyone behind me that they would have an opportunity to sign it at a reception after the services.

Then the take-charge pastor in her flowing robes began directing us like a traffic cop, pointing us to the various pockets of standing-room-only that remained in her small church. The place was full to the rafters!

Surveying the members of the crowd who were fortunate enough to be seated for the service, I was struck by what an eclectic group they were: aging hippies with long grey pony tails; Daughters of the Confederacy in their prim hats and white gloves; uniformed police officers and military members; every shade of the human spectrum, and every age from 3 months to 103 years.

The service itself kicked-off with a video, featuring a gut-wrenching Beatles tune. It was followed-up with some great eulogies by a small town mayor and his chief of police. Then, members of the family spoke and sang. And, finally, the authoritative pastor delivered her message.

All the while, yours truly craned his neck from the back of the chapel. The air conditioning began to fail. And, a thunderstorm erupted outside.

Yes, we all might have been more comfortable in a bigger facility with more seats and a better cooling system. But, then the service would not have been quite so unique and memorable.

In that way, it was very much like my dear friend.



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