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As is sometimes the case with the role of church pastors and chaplains,we are invited/requested/expected to preside at funeral services for people who have died, people we barely know, people who are beloved by others.

While it is possible to glean tidbits from personal stories and details shared by family members, friends and caregivers, I would suggest it is a fool’s errand to speak as if we had a deep relationship with someone else’s loved one.

During one recent funeral, I shared the image of a precious gem with many facets each facet representing the relationships life long or short lived, of those present and those absent.

While there are some points of common connection between facets, no one surface is the whole gem/story/life. It takes every single face to complete the picture.

It is no secret (I hope)
that we meet, visit and serve
a widely varied assortment of people
each unique in their challenges,
their concerns, their needs and
of course, their personalities
Perhaps we could consider each one
as a multi-faceted gem
that we may not fully recognize
the number of different angles
they contain
formed by the pressure and time
of the relationships throughout their lives
We might imagine
each is like a jigsaw puzzle
each relationship unique in its shape
the edges of each piece
blurring together
to produce a perfectly cropped image
More recently, however,
I have begun to wonder if they
(and us, if we are honest,)
are more akin to a mosaic
Created by broken pieces
that are assembled
by life’s circumstances
and relationships
to make one whole
Some pieces are polished smooth
Others are scuffed and dull
some are larger than others
Others seem small and not as significant
Some are beveled
Others have sharp, irregular edges
There are pieces that will
never connect
never abut, adjoin or intersect
no matter how closely set
they can be seen as one fragment
one perspective
one story
In a life’s narrative
We may be so finely focused
on our one piece
our one hue
that we lose focus
on how we fit into
a larger
more beautiful image
of an unprecedented
work of art
We may never get
the whole picture
But that doesn’t diminish
the beauty
that comes from brokenness