Sorry, sorry. I know I promised you all a heart-warming Christmas edition. I’ll still do that next week sometime, but in the meantime here’s a piece about death.

I went to the funeral of an old family friend yesterday. I say old the sense of the friendship, not in terms of the person; Rita was taken before her time by cancer and was far too young. It goes without saying that her death was tragic, but I have to say that her funeral was absolutely magnificent. It was held in the auditorium at Darwin Uniting, which was packed to the doors; standing room only.

Rita came from the local Fijian community, and so of course the Fijians came in strong numbers to pay their respects. Rita was also strongly involved with literacy training in remote aboriginal communities, so there was a big turn out from the local indigenous community as well, as well as all the people of various ethnicities from Darwin Uniting Church. In the midst of myriad government programs, schemes and interventions that don’t work, it was powerful to see that all that is required to bring the different communities together is one life of absolutely passionate service. Sure, it’s a shame that it takes the death of a wonderful person to bring the groups together, but it’s also a powerful picture of how a person’s life and legacy can go on affecting people long after they’ve passed away.

The most moving moment of the service came when they carried the coffin out of the church, accompanied simultaneously by indigenous tap sticks and a full Fijian choir, plus a bunch of goofy white people, standing by awkwardly not knowing where to look. Kind of a cross cultural cross section of the way we all handle death.

If I can move half as many people half as much when my time comes, I’ll consider it a life well lived.



Garry with 2 Rs

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