Saturday, September 26, 2009

i have a dream

My first "real job" was as a program director with a YWCA. One of my colleagues was Katie, the aquatic director. She was down home country, a farmer's wife, mother of four boys with a heart of gold and an infectious laugh. She was a bright spot while I was in that job that didn't suit me well (but from which I learned a LOT!), and a good friend.

We stayed in touch for a number of years after my "Y" days were over, and then one year, shortly after the new year, I had a letter from her husband letting me know that they had lost Katie to breast cancer just before Christmas. Katie was my first friend to be stolen from the world by breast cancer.

I have been fortunate that most of my experience with that beast has been with survivors. Ken has not been as lucky. His late wife died from a recurrence of it. In whatever way breast cancer steals its way into the bodies and lives of women, all of us are touched by it one way or another.

October is breast cancer awareness month. It has been an idea and dream of mine for a while to hold a worship service in that month that honors the women of our lives who have walked that road. I want to remember those who have gone and celebrate with survivors. I want the church to bless that sisterhood and the people who are entwined in the experience.

I've been turning over in my mind ways to make the service meaningful, and I recalled a glorious experience I had at St. John the Divine while chaperoning some youth during a Night Watch program. Worshiping at the high altar at midnight, each of were given long, thin tapers. At some point we lit the candles and stuck them into a container full of sand, and then after the homily we each took a candle from the sand and went out into the darkness of the church to pray. It was an incredible sight to watch those points of light move out and disperse in the darkness. I'm thinking that for this occasion of remembrance and celebration members of the congregation could bring lit tapers to the altar and place them in a container of sand, so that the cluster of light becomes brilliant. The lights would dim to contrast with the lives represented by that light, then after a blessing the worshipers would be dismissed.

Yes? Maybe? Thoughts? And what else needs to be part of this? I plan to use the Order for Evening from The Book of Common Prayer, and include a time of prayer during which the names of those lost may be raised up. Does anyone know of resources/liturgies for this type of service? What music is appropriate and would be familiar to a largely Baptist community? And in the midst of a very dominant Christian community, I want to be sensitive to other traditions that may be present.

In memory of those we love and have lost...

5 comments:

KimQuiltz said...

Speaking as a person of Baptist origin, I'm not sure that there is ANY music you could come up with (other than perhaps the doxology) that a Baptist would be "comfortable" with...but I'm not sure comfort and familiarity is an issue here. Be boldly Episcopalian *said in the same way one might quote Luther with "Sin boldly!" *g*

And don't forget the men. My dad just had a mass removed from his breast yesterday, we'll find out about it on Tuesday. His mother had breast cancer.

I love that you are doing this!

karen said...

What a beautiful and meaningful idea...
In my profession I see this every day...however having lost a Dear Cousin at the young age of 48, and seeing her sister fight the disease It touches close to home.
As KimQuiltz mentions don't forget the men...we currently have a much loved Orthopedic surgeon battling metastatic breast cancer....so, so unexpected...
As for the music...I also agree with Kim...be bold!!!!
Love you, GF!!!

Jayne said...

What a beautiful idea my friend. I can't imagine it would not be well attended, regardless of denomination as breast cancer certainly does not discriminate.

Mompriest said...

Yes. Beautiful. I have used candles, tapers, placed in sand pots for Taize services. And I have used individual votives placed on the altar with a Eucharist that was lit by the light of those votives. In other words, I think the use of candles to be the image of our prayers and hopes is powerful. Evening prayer is awesome. There are some wonderful prayers in The New Zealand Prayerbook...and a new resource from TEC, "Lifting Women's Voices" is a book full of prayers by women around the world, and a sequel of sorts to Women's Uncommon Prayers - which I think has some prayers in it about Breast Cancer. I love this idea...

Jules said...

Anne, this service will be so moving and I only wish I could be there to see your dream become reality.

There was an error in this gadget

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails