My cup runneth over: A homily for the funeral of Dollie Pendleton

26932The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters; he restoreth my soul. He hath led in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Providence gave me the grace to spend a bit of time with Dollie before she passed. (She passed in a Catholic hospital, at St. Francis, which I always appreciate–they are gateways to heaven I think, given that the church on earth and the church in heaven are one church.) Together with so many members of the family, I prayed the Church’s prayers over the dying. And then I read from Psalm 23, a psalm Dollie seemed to know by heart. I later learned that she had recited it that morning. It is a good psalm to know by heart. It was written by David at the very end of his life. I imagine an elderly David, lying on his sick bed and remembering the blessings and callings and joys God had given him. He remembered that day that he was anointed king. He remembered learning that his wife was to pregnant with his first son, Amnon. 19 others followed. He remembered what it was to be a husband and a father to so many. He probably turned his mind back to those days of shepherding as a young man. He remembered that first poem he wrote.  And the more he reflected, the fewer words he could find. He ends up summarizing his life with these words: “My cup overflows.”

Those very words were some of Dollie’s last words too. As she neared the end, I’m sure she remembered her days being what she loved being–a country girl. She remembered the joys she found in gardening and cooking and traveling and home life. Most of all she remembered her family. Family was the most important thing for her. When I visited with her before her death, her eyes were closed for most of our time together.  But then I mentioned Conner. I said we’d take good care of him, and she opened her eyes and she lit up. She loved her great-grandchildren—Conner, Isabelle, Jacob and Janelle.  She never missed their games. She passed on Saturday, when Conner was in the middle of his basketball game at OLG.  I wonder if she passed on at that moment so she could be there to watch him play.  Her great-grandchildren, and all her family–she loved you all so much.  Conner spoke about how she would pick him up from school three days of the week throughout his life, and that she would always take him to Chuckie Cheese on Fridays.  Her family was her everything. And it remains so.

Just like David, Dollie found herself most blessed, most overflowing, when she was pouring her life out for others. In that she offers us an important example.

In these difficult days of loss, God calls us to do two things: to celebrate and pray.

To celebrate. We celebrate how good God is to have given Dollie to our lives, to our world. This world is a better place because of her having been a part of it. God has blessed us abundantly in giving Dollie to us. We also celebrate that Dollie has reached a place with Christ, Christ who overcame death. If we remain a part of Christ, we are drawn up into his resurrection, into glory, into heaven. Death is not a real thing for us who have Christ, because Jesus killed death.  When one passes, life changes but it does not end. And that is something to celebrate. And there is rejoicing in heaven whenever a new person arrives. I’m sure Carl (her son) and Robert and Arnold (her borhters) and Letha, Edith, Bettie and Rosie (her sisters) rejoiced a great deal on Saturday when Dollie arrived. She is happy right now, happier than ever before. But she will be happier when we get there.

To pray. Let us remember to pray. Conner placed the rosary I gave him around Dollie’s hands. It is a sign of a few things. It’s a sign of our prayers. We surround her soul with our love and our prayers. And it is a sign of how important God is to Dollie, and how important he must be for us also. We also pray for ourselves during this difficult time. We turn to God. And God is enough.