Memorial Service Readings

Responsive reading

Reader: In the rising of the sun and it's going down

All: We remember him

Reader: In the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter

All: We remember him

Reader: In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring

All: We remember him

Reader: In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer

All: We remember him

Reader: In the rustling of the leaves and the beauty of autumn

All: We remember him

Reader: In the beginning of the year and when it ends

All: We remember him

Reader: When we are weary and in need of strength

All: We remember him

Reader: When we are lost and sick at heart

All: We remember him

Reader: When we have joys we yearn to share

All: We remember him

Reader: For as long as we live, he too shall live

All: For he is now a part of us, as we remember him


Candle Lighting

[At times the light in ourselves goes out and must be rekindled by another. Blessed is the match consumed in the kindling flame. In our time of grief, we light a flame of sharing, the flame of ongoing life. In this time when we search for understanding and serenity in the face of loss, we light this sign of the human quest for meaning and community. Let the light we now kindle, and share, represent the joy and the sorrow, the memory and the loss, the passionate spirit of Angie. And the community of love he created.]

[interlude while flame is passed and meditation in silence, or accompanied by music.]

[We now extinguish these flames, but not the light of hope, the warmth of community or the fire of Greg’s gifts to the world. These we will always carry in our hearts.]


Poem: by Rabbi Jack Spence Jr (from “In Loving Memory”)

It has been said that there are several ways to mourn. One is to weep; and we have done our share of weeping.

Another way to mourn is to sing: to sing a hymn to life, a life that still abounds in sights and sounds and vivid colors...

We sing the songs of our beloved; we aspire to their qualities of spirit; we take up their tasks as they would have shouldered them.

Adapted from Marion Zimmer Bradley

May memories lighten grief. May the fire burning within each of us burn a little brighter because we have known Greg. We are grateful for his life.

Go in peace.

In Blackwater Woods

By Mary Oliver

Look, the trees

are turning

their own bodies

into pillars

of light,

are giving off the rich

fragrance of cinnamon

and fulfillment,

the long tapers

of cattails

are bursting and floating away over

the blue shoulders

of the ponds,

and every pond,

no matter what its

name is, is

nameless now.

Every year


I have ever learned

in my lifetime

leads back to this: the fires

and the black river of loss

whose other side

is salvation,

whose meaning

none of us will ever know.

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

When you are sorrowful look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight ~ Kahlil Gibran

What is Death?

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without affect, without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.

All is well.

~ Henry Scott Holland

by Walter Rinder

Finding You in Beauty

The rays of light filtered through

The sentinels of trees this morning.

I sat in the garden and contemplated.

The serenity and beauty

Of my feelings and surroundings

Completely captivated me.

I thought of you.

I discovered you tucked away

In the shadows of the trees.

Then, rediscovered you

In the smiles of the flowers

As the sun penetrated their petals

In the rhythm of the leaves

Falling in the garden

In the freedom of the birds

As they fly searching as you do.

I’m very happy to have found you,

Now you will never leave me

For I will always find you in the beauty of life.

(“The Cost” by Dorothy N. Monroe)

Death is not too high a price to pay for having lived. Mountains never die, nor do the seas or rocks or endless sky. Through countless centuries of time, they stay eternal, deathless, yet they never live!

If choice there were, I would not hesitate to choose mortality. Whatever Fate demanded in return for life I'd give. For never to have seen the fertile plains nor heard the winds nor felt the warm sun on sands beside the salty sea, nor touched the hands of those I love – without these, all the gains of timelessness would not be worth one day of living and of loving; come what may.

The Choir Invisible

Oh, may I join the choir invisible

Of those immortal dead who live again

In minds made better by their presence; live

In pulses stirred to generosity,

In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn

For miserable aims that end with self,

In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,

And with their mild persistence urge men's search

To vaster issues. So to live is heaven:

To make undying music in the world,

For us who strive to follow. May I reach

That purest heaven, -- be to other souls

The cup of strength in some great agony,

Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,

Beget the smiles that have no cruelty,

Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,

And in diffusion ever more intense!

So shall I join the choir invisible

Whose music is the gladness of the world.

-George Eliot

"He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"The heart hath its own memory, like the mind. And in it are enshrined the precious keepsakes, into which is wrought the giver's loving thought." ~ H.W. Longfellow

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." ~ Helen Keller

"Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there." ~ Isla Paschal Richardson

"Photographs are precious memories . . . the visual evidence of place and time and relationships . . . ritual talismans for the treasure chest of the heart." ~ Robert Fulghum, in From Beginning to End

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." ~ Thomas Campbell

"Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy." ~ Eskimo Legend

Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. ~ Rossiter W. Raymond

"If I am to wear this mourning cloak, let it be made of the fabric of love, woven by the fine thread of memory." ~ Molly Fumia, in Safe Passage, Conari Press

Remembering is an act of resurrection, each repetition a vital layer of mourning, in memory of those we are sure to meet again. ~Nancy Cobb, in "In Lieu of Flowers"

I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one.

I'd like to leave an afterflow of smiles when life is done.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways.

Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun.

Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

--Helen Lowrie Marshall.

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox;

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending as all music does, towards silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms,

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

--Mary Oliver

It is a fearful thing

To love

What death can touch.

A fearful thing

To love

Hope, dream: to be—

To be,

And oh! To lose.

For your life has lived in me,

Your laugh once lifted me,

Your word was gift to me.

To remember this

Brings a painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love

a holy thing,

to love

what death has touched.


I am not dead, I have only become inhuman:

That is to say,

Undressed myself of laughable pride and infirmities,

But not as a man

Undresses to creep into bed, but like an athlete

Stripping for the race.

The delicate ravel of nerves that made me a measurer

Of certain fictions

Called good and evil; that made me contract with pain

And expand with pleasure;

Fussily adjusted like a little electroscope:

That’s gone, it is true;

(I never miss it; if the universe does,

How easily replaced!)

But all the rest is heightened, widened, set free.

I admired the beauty

While I was human, now I am part of the beauty.

I wander in the air,

Being mostly gas and water and flow in the ocean;

Touch you and Asia

At the same moment; have a hand in the sunrises

And the glow of this grass.

I left the light precipitate of ashes to earth

For a love-token.

--Robinson Jeffers

Soon, I feel

the time comes near to leave.

With sunset shadings

screen the parting day.

Let the hour be silent; let it be peaceful.

Let not any pompous memories or meetings

create a sorrow's stance.

May the trees at the gate

raise the earth's chant of peace

in a cluster of green leaves.

May the night's blessings be

in the light of the seven stars.

--Tagore, From Arogya, translation: Amiya Chakravarty

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go.

Though the fields lay golden

Something whispered, "snow."

Leaves were green and stirring,

Berries, luster-glossed,

But beneath warm feathers

But something cautioned, "frost."

All the sagging orchards

Steamed with amber spices

But each wild breast stiffened

At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese

It was time to fly -

Summer sun was on their wings,

Winter in their cry.

--Rachel Field


When I die, I want your hands on my eyes;

I want the light and wheat of your beloved hands

to pass their freshness over me once more:

I want to feel the softness that changed my destiny.

I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep.

I want your ears still to hear the wind, I want you

to sniff the sea's aroma that we loved together,

to continue to walk on the sand we walk on.

I want what I love to continue to live,

and you whom I love and sang above everything else

to continue to flourish, full flowered:

so that you can reach everything my love directs you to,

so that my shadow can travel along in your hair,

so that everything can learn the reason for my song.

-- Pablo Neruda

Sonnet XCIV

If I die, survive me with such a pure force

you make the pallor and the coldness rage;

flash your indelible eyes from south to south,

from sun to sun, till your mouth sings like a guitar.

I don't want your laugh or your footsteps to waver;

I don't want my legacy of happiness to die;

don't call to my breast: I'm not there.

Live in my absence as in a house.

Absence is such a large house

that you'll walk through the walls,

hang pictures in sheer air.

Absence is such a transparent house

that even being dead I will see you there,

and if you suffer, Love, I'll die a second time.

-- Pablo Neruda

I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one. I'd like to leave an afterflow of smiles when life is done. I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways. Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days. I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun. Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

--Helen Lowrie Marshall.

Today is a very good day to die.

Every Living thing is in harmony with me.

Every voice sings a chorus within me.

All beauty has come to rest in my eyes.

All bad thoughts have departed from me.

Today is a very good day to die.

My land is peaceful around me

My fields have been turned for the last time.

My house is filled with laughter.

My children have come home.

Yes, today is a very good day to die.

--Japanese, source unknown

I share with you the agony of your grief,

The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.

I know I cannot enter all you feel

Nor bear with you the burden of your pain.

I can but offer what my love does give,

The strength of caring,

The warmth of one who seeks to understand

The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.

This I do in quiet ways,

That on your lonely path

You may not walk alone.

--Howard Thurman

It was beautiful as long as it lasted

The journey to my life.

I have no regrets whatsoever

save the pain I'll leave behind.

Those dear hearts who love and care...

And the strings pulling at the heart and soul...

The strong arms that held me up

When my own strength let me down.

At every turning of my life

I came across good friends,

Friends who stood me by,

Even when time raced me by.

Farewell, farewell my friends

I smile and bid you goodbye.

No, shed no tears for I need them not.

All I need is your smile.

If you feel sad do think of me

for that's what I'll like.

When you live in the hearts of those you love,

remember, then you never die.


And then the heaviest door in the universe slammed shut.

And there were no knobs.

The season of grief fell around us like the leaves of autumn.

When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder.

Lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber

after safety.

When great trees fall in forests small things recoil into silence,

their senses are eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes sterile, light rare.

We breathe briefly.

Our eyes briefly see with a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines,

gnaws on kind words unsaid, on promised walks not taken.

Great souls die, and our reality bound to them takes leave of us.

Our souls, dependent upon them, upon their nature, upon their nurture, now shrink wizened.

Our minds formed and informed by their radiance, seem to fall away.

We are not so much maddened, as reduced to the unutterable silence

of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die,

after a period, peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.

Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

They exist in us.

We can be. Be and be better.

Larger, kinder, truer.

For they existed.

--Dr. Maya Angelou,

We bereaved are not alone. We belong the largest company in the world—the company of those who have known suffering. When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of heavy-hearted into which our grief has given us entrance and, inevitability, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.

-- Helen Keller

A hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;

The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends;

Mute music soothes my breast—unuttered harmony,

That I could never dream till Earth was lost to me.

Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;

My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels:

Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbor found,

Measuring the gulf, it stoops and dates the final


--Emily Bronte

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!

What a task to ask of anything, or anyone,

Yet it is ours.

To live in this world

You must be able to do three things:

To love what is mortal;

To hold it

Against your bones knowing

Your own life depends on it;

And, when the time comes to let it go;

To let it go.

-- Mary Oliver

The Universe is honest with us.

The Universe gives us back everything, but on its own terms, not ours.

We are not water, we are a

shape that water takes for a time.

We are not the ocean, only the wave.

We are not substance only form.

It may be that we are coal on our way to becoming diamonds.

It may be that we get to fling ourselves outward

Our million moments of presence scattering through consciousness freely

Like snow collected overnight on a spruce bow

That at mid-morning bursts into glittering dust in the sunshine.

And thus we are gathered unto our ancestors,

Joining the choir invisible

Whose music is the gladness of the world.

--Compiled by John Marsh

Sprit of Life, mystery of death:

We trust that beyond the absence:

There is a presence.

That beyond the pain:

There can be healing.

That beyond the brokenness:

There can be new kind of wholeness.

That beyond the silence:

There may be the understanding.

And that beyond the understanding:

There is love.

Blessed Be. Amen


We are not snuffed out at death

but absorbed into a greater flame.

--Anne Morrow Lindburgh


by Jane Tyson Clement

At what instant does the summer change?

What subtle chemistry of air

and sunlight on the clean and wind smooth sand?

The small birds at the water's edge -

yesterday they were not there.

So suddenly the magic door is shut,

the trio suddenly is done,

the clasped hands inexplicably apart;

however dear, however bright,

the road we traveled on is gone.

Everywhere we go we take our souls with us.

And every time we meet someone we wrap a little piece of our souls around them

and pass it through them.

All our lives, we weave our souls

around and through everyone we meet,

tying a complex, tangled web to the earth.

This is who we are to the world around us.

Each of us has a thousand, a million tendrils of other souls wrapped

around us and through us.

And this is who we are to ourselves.

Sometimes we need to grasp these tendrils for all we’re worth

just to keep ourselves here.

Sometimes the tendrils snap

and we can’t weave anymore.

But the thousand, the million threads we have already woven remain,

tangled messily about the earth.

This is still who we are, and we aren’t diminished,

but it does leave a hole.

You have wrapped your soul around me and

through me a thousand, a million different times.

If I gather all these threads in my hands and hold tight,

and if you hold onto all the threads that have ever

pierced your soul, wrapping them around you like

a protective cloak, anchoring you to the ground,

maybe the threads won’t snap, and you can keep weaving a little longer.

If it snaps anyway,

I will take all the threads you have left me

and wrap them around a spool

that I will carry with me always.

by Steven F. Smith– “A Little Piece of our Souls.”


In one sense there is no death.

The life of a soul on Earth lasts beyond his departure.

You will always feel that life touching yours,

that voice speaking to you, that spirit looking out of your eyes,

talking to you in the familiar things he touched, worked with,

loved as familiar friends.

He lives on in your life, and in the lives of all others that knew him.

by Angelo Patri in a larger piece in his syndicated

column "Our Children" in November, 1938

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

II Corinthians 5:1-5 says,

“1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Revelation 1:17-18

17 Fear not; I am the first and the last:

18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.

John 14:19

19 …because I live, ye shall live also.

I Corinthians 15:51-55

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I Thessalonians 4:16-18

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.