Friday I went to the funeral for the mother of one of my staff. The Black church tradition is new to me and I had no idea what to expect; it was quickly clear that everything would be different.
I’ve been to my share of funerals, probably more than most, because my choir used to sing a lot at the funerals of strangers. It’s interesting to go to funerals and weddings when you don’t know or care about the people involved. You’re there to be part of the community and to add to the bare bones of the liturgy. I love the ritual, mind you, but I need music for pretty much anything.
Friday’s funeral was pretty free-form and lasted almost 2 hours, a far cry from the Episcopal liturgy. There was much weeping and wailing with public display of emotion that was healthy to see and undoubtedly to express. One of the things that struck me the most was that the women in the family – and there was a lot of family – all wore white.
I felt out of place there in the church. I’m not comfortable with firey preaching, with spontaneous displays of emotion and leadings of the spirit. Episcopalians don’t pop up and down except when the Prayer Book tells them too. I’m also not very used to going to church anymore so that was also weird.
But I was where I needed to be on Friday, supporting a colleague with others from the staff, and I’m glad I went. I also came home and called my parents to tell them I love them.