Saturday, October 9, 2010

Setting for the Eulogy, Part the First

Miss Ruby said it best, and she said something like this: "I don't want to be racist or anything, but I'm going to say it how it was. All of us-- all of Jane's friends and family who were at the funeral-- we're black. And it's at this white [as in the race of the majority of the congregation is white] church, and we're thinking: can they deliver like we're used to being delivered to [in, say, a Black church]?"

I felt that. I was aware that the congregation was going to be mostly black, and I think that I was a little less shocked than, say, Bishop Smith, at how large that congregation was; I had been a regular visitor at Jane's house and had seen first hand how many people besides me loved to be near her. The ward had run off 150 programs on the nice, colored paper; then, when they saw so many people there, 75 more on the black-and-white copier available at the church. By the bishop's estimation, there were about three hundred people in attendance. The members of the ward who came sat mostly in the seats in the back section of the chapel; the front of the chapel was full of black, black, wherever the eye turned, and-- as Miss Ruby so candidly put it-- they were wondering (as was I, quite frankly) if the funeral speakers could "deliver".

There were a few things on my side. First and foremost is my love for Jane, my feeling I've had since I first began visiting her that she is truly my sister, that it is a privilege to have known her. Also, there is the fact that absolutely everyone in that congregation was praying for me, as were more people than I've ever been aware of before, in other locations. It didn't hurt at all that, for me, black people I don't know are much safer, emotionally, than white people I don't know; this is residual from my having attended Jr. High in Alabama, where the black kids were just much, much kinder to me than were the white kids, on average. Then there is the fact that somehow, the way I get nervous when I'm speaking sometimes comes across as being confident and collected to the people I am addressing, whether that is at an oral linguistics final or giving a talk at a Black Mormon Funeral.

Most of all, it is my opinion that it was simply the will of God for it to go well. When Miss Ruby started out by saying that they weren't sure if we could deliver, I said, "I was worried..." and she interrupted: "But you showed us you didn't have to deliver how we are used to. You captured her essence-- it was just so beautiful."

"Well, I prayed," I said, "and I think that God helped me."

"God was with you."

Which was a beautiful compliment, and symbolic of how I've taken all of the compliments (of which there have been many) so far: they are a validation, not that I of myself did such a great job, but that I was able to follow the Holy Ghost and do what was expected of me.

1 comment:

Day said...

I think this is a beautiful entry. And I love you.