We stood, gathered in a church courtyard. There were about 30 of us standing around a plot of ivy covered ground. A hole in the dirt is waiting for the ashes of my big sister, Kay. We were her family gathered from around North America to honor a woman who had blessed so many. Her husband, David, had asked me to say a few words on behalf of the family. How do you sum up the life of one who has lived a rich and full life?
As I stood and looked out on the gathered family, I realized that words could not do what the community who encircled her ashes did by its very presence. There before me were people with northern European heritage, African heritage, Native American heritage, Vietnamese heritage, Guatemalan heritage. They were all in Kay's family. We had come from Vancouver BC, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York City, Virginia, Indiana, Southern California, South Dakota, Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Illinois, Ohio.
And we who were gathered were from every walk of life: grocery clerk, chef, teachers, business women and men, unemployed, nurses, professionals of all kinds. Some of us had multiple degrees, others had wisdom learned on the streets. Some lived with physical challenges, others with emotional complexities. Some were gifted in speech, others in music, others in compassion, others in empathic presence. All of us were there together, in all our diversity, because we were loved by Kay and we loved her.
What more needs to be said. Kay and Dave lived a life of generous hospitality. They always made room for more. Their family expanded the longer they lived, opening to people who were seeking home. There was always more room in Kay's heart even if she didn't have any more room in her home. Kay and Dave grew a global family and discovered the challenges and gifts of creative diversity.
It seems to me that the world needs more people like my sister Kay and her husband Dave. If we are going to learn to live together in this shrinking planet, we have to become family where all are honored whether they are like us are very different. As I say good-bye to my big sister, I say "Thank you Kay, for allowing me to see in you and Dave a taste of the reign of God. May your spirit infect us that we too might honor all as you did."