Each Life That Touches Ours

Dear Mother,

I went to a funeral this morning.  Last night the Bishop called while we were out and asked if Husband or I would play for a funeral this morning.  It was for someone he didn't know and wasn't affiliated with our church, but somehow we were asked to officiate and provide the music for it.

I've played piano for a lot of funerals (way more than I've attended because I knew the person that died), and it was similar to a lot of them.  I usually show up with no personal attachment, but am interested in what their life was like.  The family usually finds me and thanks me for the music and then proceeds to talk to me for some period of time.  I guess the piano player seems safe?  Not sure, but someone always talks to me and I just have to smile and nod, because I have no connection to them before that day and I most likely will never see them again  I only can piece together what is said during the services to get a feel for the situation.  Then during the services I get bored and look around the room at the people attending the funeral.  Since most of them usually aren't LDS they don't look comfortable at a "religious" meeting.  Their dress and actions are different than how Church members would act at a funeral.  I try to figure out who is family, co-workers, friends, war buddies, etc.  and how they might be feeling.  I especially like to watch them as the Bishop gives his remarks that teach LDS doctrines.  For some this may be the first time they have ever heard the Plan of Salvation or of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I always wonder if they'll remember the Spirit that they felt

Today, the funeral was for a man who led a rogue life.  He was promiscuous and his sister said they knew of 12 of his children (but that there might be more.)  It didn't sound as if he ever married any of their mothers or spent any time with his children or grandchildren until 4 years ago.  Perhaps he knew he was dying?  He came and went whenever he pleased only contacting his family if he needed something.  The sister said she just had to accept him how he was, and spent most of her "life sketch" apologizing to his children and grandchildren that were present for her brother's weaknesses.

The Bishop then focused his remarks on the atonement and what Jesus Christ could do for the man who died, and each person in that room.  I also thought he did a nice job of mentioning Christ and Christmastime as the world was hustling and bustling while we were all paused.

We did not sing "Each Life That Touches Ours For Good" as no one would have recognized it.  It's one of my favorites, but at 90% of the funerals I attend we sing "How Great Thou Art," as we did today :)  Then later on in the program I played a special musical number.  Well I did not find out about this special musical number until a couple of hours before the funeral and I was not at home.  I whipped out a Lindsay special and played "Nearer, My God, to Thee" (a hymn I knew that would be recognized by non-members and also sung at most of the funerals that I've been to).  I just did broken chords on the first verse, up an octave on the second verse, and full chords on the third verse, repeating the final line for finality.  I felt kind of guilty that I hadn't a chance to practice anything, but also grateful that I had the ability to just whip it out on the spot.

I could tell as I was playing that those in attendance could feel the Spirit.  I heard sniffles and crying and as I completed the song I found that I had tears in my eyes as well.  I genuinely found myself hoping that the family members could feel peace with the situation as it clearly wasn't ideal.  I hoped that they would remember the words spoken about the Atonement and somehow be led to missionaries so that they could learn more.  As they Bishop said the closing prayer, these thoughts continued to overwhelm me.

We didn't sing "Each Life That Touches Ours For Good," but I can honestly say that this unknown man to me, touched my life for good.  I am grateful that I was able to be at the funeral and think and reflect about my blessings and my testimony of the Savior.  Today was the first day of December.  A midst parades, lights, Christmas tree lightings, etc. I think I had the perfect Christmas Kickoff.  I am so grateful for the atonement in my life.  I am grateful that we just celebrated Thanksgiving.  I wasn't ready to move on yet.  I am so blessed that my attendance at the funeral of this rogue man could provide me the opportunity to serve others, to help them feel the Spirit, maybe for the first time.  I am looking forward to a season of love, peace, joy, blessings, and devotion to the Savior.

With love,


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