Burial of Kathleen Dendy
When Kay Dendy was born, George V was a young king. Later that same month the allies defeated the Germans at Amiens, France; this was known as the last great battle of the Western Front – WWI. And, just over 3 months after Kay’s birth, the Armistice was signed at Compiegne, and the “First Great War” came to an end.
For nearly 99 years, Kay basked in the faith that she was carried through hardship as well as times of joy in the arms of her Lord. Kay lived in the affirmation of the words of our savior that we have read just now, assured that nothing with which the Father had entrusted the Son would be lost. With typical British steel gentility and dignity, even enduring two world wars and their aftermath, Kay lived in the assurance that nothing of God’s creation is lost.
In our Gospel lesson from John are the words of Jesus that follow his statement “I am the bread of life, anyone who comes to me shall not hunger.” Anyone who comes to me shall not hunger; none, Jesus promises, not one will be driven away. Jesus continues to assure us that nothing with which the Father had entrusted him would be lost. Jesus does not break his promises.
Interestingly, in this Gospel lesson, the Greek word used for “Everything” means just that – everything – all creation. Jesus promises to lose nothing of the Father’s creation. Through Jesus Christ, nothing in all creation is lost. Humankind, in turn, is entrusted with the care of all creation as is confirmed in the account of creation that we read in Genesis.
In great joy, with hand and heart, Kay continued this ministry of seeing that nothing was lost, whether it was a Chesapeake Bay seagull or a stray kitten that hugs people around the neck just as humans do.
God comes to us in such simple and mysterious ways; we have to be constantly on the watch for such things. Last Sunday, when I visited Kay in her home where Janie and Pam were caring for her, I took my home Communion kit in order to share with Kay the physical and spiritual communion of the Body of Christ that we all share. The Communion kits contain the reserved bread and wine from the Holy Communion that we share on Sunday. Sharing this reserve with the homebound assures them of their spiritual presence in the Body of Christ – in this case our parish family – though they are unable to be physically present.
So, on this occasion, undoubtedly Kay’s last earthly Communion, opening the pix that normally holds the consecrated wafers, I discovered to my embarrassment that the pix was empty; I had failed to refill it from the reserved sacrament that is stored here in our tabernacle. Umm, what was I to do? I could return to the car to check my other kit, or I could consecrate some bread from Kay’s kitchen, which seemed to be the best idea. A roll was produced and blessed – far more bread, of course, than was required by the four of us as we shared the wine – reserved from that shared by the dear people of Advent – and the newly consecrated bread.
What, then, would we do with the remaining consecrated bread? Ah, of course, the seagulls! How appropriate that Kay’s final Communion – her last heavenly banquet on earth – would be shared with the seagulls. Jesus promises that nothing in all of his Father’s creation will be lost.
In her earthly death Kay embraces the words of the prophet Isaiah, “the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed:” the Good News that in Christ, death, our last enemy, is destroyed; the Good News that in Christ no one is cast out, nothing in all God’s creation is lost, all and everything are held in the arms of God, as Kay was lovingly held by Janie as she drew her last breath.
Kay indulges now in this heavenly banquet in which we will all indulge one day – the heavenly banquet much like that, we can imagine, described by Isaiah.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
In my last conversation with Kay, I struggled to understand her words; her mind was clear but her voice was weak. Even so, there was one particular statement that was very clear – a statement that sums up her life and her death. She was speaking of her grandson Geoffrey who had come from Atlanta early last week to assist in her care. By then, Kay no longer had the strength to even lift herself up in bed. Speaking passionately, Kay said, “Geoffrey, that dear dear boy, he picked me up in his arms just like this, and he carried me so gently, and laid me in my bed.”
Kay is raised from her bed, as we will all be raised. Kay is feasting on rich food and fine wines along with loved ones, sea gulls, and kitty cats who went ahead of her. Jesus said, “Anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away.” None is lost; all are carried in his arms.