July 1, 2011

Be Our Guest / Cindy Leppert

My cup overflows

Cindy LeppertI wasn’t sure I could do it—attend the funeral of my friend’s husband.

It was just a year ago that we stood in that very church, unfolding the pall over my own husband’s casket. An exquisite moment—like putting him to bed for the last time … .

They were sick at the same time. My friend and I had walked the walk together, and then there it was, the dreaded funeral of a gentle, gracious and dear man who had befriended me.

I told myself that I didn’t have to go, wouldn’t make myself go, and shouldn’t go if it would cause anyone more grief, but that morning a deep calm settled over me. I went to the funeral wrapped in my prayer shawl.

I sat in the last pew on the center aisle so she would know that I came. Special friends filtered in and filled the pews, and it began. Music, procession, blessing, special stories, eulogy… . I started to sink into “Maybe I shouldn’t have done this after all.”

Then there was the thump of a kneeler, a child’s voice interrupting the spell of it.

In the corner of my vision was a short struggle, a streak toward the sanctuary door, and a mother with an infant on one arm and a diaper bag on the other in hot pursuit. The priest didn’t fumble a bit.

It was a moment before I realized that there was nobody to help her there in the hallway of the church. Something stood me up and moved me after them.

“Do you need the cry room? Let me show you.”

The child sprinted off in the right direction, thank goodness.

“Would you hold the baby? Here.”

She thrust the infant at me, and off she went after the toddler, the baby having been caught up in my shawl-covered arms.

I was stunned. Would I hold your baby?

So that is how it came to be that I sat in the cry room on a folding chair with the funeral liturgy in full sight, perfectly able to hear it all, with the four walls and a challenging toddler providing emotional distance, and cradling a small, warm, breathing bundle snuggled close to my heart.

My cup was full, pressed down and running over.

Only later did it occur to me, “My Lord and my God, how perfect is your Providence for me.”

I got to hold the baby!

(Cindy Leppert is a member of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis.)

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