Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vada's Funeral

So Demetrios rose to give a eulogy, and just the sight of him brought us all to tears, because you could see his tears, and hear the strain in his voice as he spoke of Vada. "Vada had three sons," said. "But in a way, I was her fourth son." And her (other) three sons and their wives all nodded.

Yes, that about summed it up. He told how he had met Vada and Sloan forty years ago, "When I was alone, without family, without country, without future and without hope," and they took him under wing.

Later, Vada's daughters-in-law told us such things as, "Through Vada, I knew Demetrios long before I actually met him" and, "I used to wonder, 'Who IS this man my husband keeps telling me of?' but I didn't have to wonder for long."

Other people told us Vada had been like a mother to them, too, when they needed it most.

The service was surprisingly religious, given that Vada, although she went to church sometimes, was highly critical of organized religion. There was a minister who read from the Bible, and there were songs for the congregation to sing: Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, and - of all things! - my very least favorite, In the Garden. Somebody among her sons or daughters-in-law must be secretly religious. The only one I know of who is, is Claudia, and she's Catholic. Or maybe these were just songs Vada still liked.

Today, for the first time, I understood what people mean when they describe themselves as "not religious, but spiritual." I used to think, oh, give me a break! What does that mean? That's a perfectly meaningless statement. But no, it isn't. What I wrote here last night clicked into place, and I remembered, it is NOT with the cognitive mind one apprehends God. It is with the soul, a.k.a. the nous. Therefore, it is perfectly possible, in fact, normal, to be aware of God in your soul, even if you are unable to accomodate your concept of Him in your cognition. Every concept is an idol anyway.

That was Vada. If she never found God, it wasn't for lack of trying. She had read the Bible, most recently from cover to cover in French, as a refresher in that language; and she had studied Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion assiduously, both as a child and as an adult. (There was nothing else she was allowed to do on Sundays, in her father's household, in between church services.) No, it wasn't from lack of trying. It was because she rejected every religion she knew as narrow, restrictive, oppressive, and illogical.   And dangerous.

She didn't know Holy Orthodoxy and wasn't terribly open to learning about it, assuming it was basically the same as the others.

She did not accept her own concept of God, yet she sought God and prayed to Him.

Her next door neighbors sat next to us at the reception luncheon afterwards; Mr. Banks is the one who found Vada. She had slidden all the way down between the door and the steering wheel, and he firmly believes she was already dead when he found her, and stiff, too, given the enormous difficulty the emergency team had removing her from her car and the way she lay on the guerney.

She had run over one sapling, which had bent down under her car, no doubt slowing it considerably, and had run into another, somewhat larger tree, not very hard. Not hard enough to cause the airbags to deploy, much less hard enough to kill her. Demetrios said the medical examiner probably wrote, "broken neck" just to close out the case and avoid having to do a full autopsy, since there was never really any question of foul play. We all choose to believe she had a heart attack or stroke before the crash and died very quickly. She remained conscious, according to our theory, long enough to undo her seatbelt, but not long enough to remove the keys from the ignition and unlock the locks, which eventually had to be broken to reach her.

I hope she was right when she told me that although she still couldn't find God, she was sure He had at last found her.


Steve Robinson said...

I am glad you have come to understand "spiritual but not religious". There are a lot of religious concepts that "spiritual" people intuitively reject and rightfully so. They haven't rejected the God of "Orthodoxy", they just haven't found Him anywhere they've looked so far. May Vada's memory be eternal.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thank you, s-p. Yes, Vada was entirely right to reject every religion she knew.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I am so glad you were both able to be there for the funeral.

Memory eternal....may she see God, for whom she searched so hard.

elizabeth said...

Memory Eternal. Trusting her to God's mercy...

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

George, you are welcome here any time, anonymously or not, although of course it's nicer to know who you are.

I'm not ignoring your comment, but giving it the thought it deserves, and will answer it later, perhaps in a whole separate post.

Meanwhile, how do Lutherans define faith in such a way as to avoid it being assent to prositions?