I had a unique experience yesterday. I attended a Chinese funeral. The service was for my next-door neighbor who had been in the US for only five years. His facility with the English language was almost non-existent. That of his wife was somewhat better, and I had attempted to build a relationship with them – mainly with her – over the last few years. When it is hard to communicate with someone – whatever the reasons – relationship is more difficult on many levels.
When he died somewhat unexpectedly last week, his wife called me and, in her broken English, asked me if I “knew anything about funerals.” She was totally inexperienced with making those kinds of arrangements and was at a loss. But things happened and the service was set for Sunday afternoon. As things developed, I found out that they had a marginal relationship with the Atlanta Chinese Christian Church and clergy and folks from that church stepped up to minister to them.
I was curious as to what the service would be like. It was fairly similar to other services I have been to – with the main exception being that the entire service was in Chinese! I settled in to allow my mind to wander to other things, knowing I would not understand a word. And so it was until the time came to sing “Amazing Grace” and later, “It Is Well with My Soul.” I sang along in English as everyone else sang in Chinese. All of a sudden, I was at one with everyone else present in the service. We were united in our wish to honor this one who was no longer with us. And we were united also in the God we serve and believe in. Truly, “in Christ there is no east and west.”