In memoriam, memories and migrants.

We human beings are definitely spirit-mind-body creations.   How does your body know, without being able really to understand, when a loved one dies, that he won’t be back?

Your body relives the life you led together.  Your body feels, remembers the looks, the tastes, the smells, the textures of the other, the passionate joys and hurtful, fearful times.  Ask it, it does!

That is part of the grieving process from milestone to milestone, one week, two, three, four.  One month, a birthday, six months, an anniversary of one kind or another, a year coming up, two, ten or more. Did it feel long or short?  Ask your body it knows.

Ask your mind.  Ask your mind to call up the memories good and bad too to be faced, enjoyed, laughed over or cried over and ultimately forgiven and healed.   Not to be discarded as useless clutter, but filed in a special treasure-chest or scattered about the house as reminders. Pictures and memories.

Corpus Christi. Allow me to indulge myself and share a moment.  On 22nd June 2000 my Chris died, on the feast of Corpus Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Lord, Master, Saviour, Model. Jesus Christ who said, “this is my body, given up for you. Do this in memory of me.”  In spirit and in practical embodied terms married couples do this daily, physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually, giving their bodies to each other, giving themselves to their children as all parents do.  They do it as an expression of their marital spirituality, in memory of Him.  That is what Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:21-32.

I have once again passed this milestone. On my journey memories of the distant past and newer memories decorate the path, patches of light and dark.  Everyone walks this path through life, this path of loss of a dear one, a spouse, parent, child or friend.  Ideally they do so with the help of family or other loved ones, in some parishes and communities a support group.  Some are lonely but not alone.  Some are alone but not lonely.     No one can walk this grieving journey for you.   Its feelings range from confusion, anger, guilt, sadness, depression, consolation and desolation to gentle quiet and, yes, times too of joy.  Blessed are we who find companions on our way as we listen to body, mind and spirit.

Last Sunday was another Corpus Christi feast, different once again for each of body, mind and spirit. There was family togetherness and joy and some nostalgia.  My personal most poignant moments can be related to another important commemorative day of this time, the SACBC DAY OF PRAYER FOR MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES on 30 June.

Migration and Family Life. Migration happens, has happened throughout human history and will continue to do so on an ever larger scale.  Moving becomes quicker, easier and generally cheaper.  People migrate for many reasons, some economic, some personal – catching up with family,  some flee from war and violence leaving family behind.  For those fleeing it can remain a very hazardous enterprise.  Forced migration in the form of human trafficking is regarded as modern day slavery.

The thousands of Africans who were shipped as slaves to the Americas some centuries ago left families, started new families amongst themselves and many were converted to Christianity. An interesting spiritual phenomenon that developed amongst these families was a musical genre of spirituals, a musical style well worth googling and following on YouTube or elsewhere, one in which they could express their feelings and their longing for home.

On Corpus Christi Sunday I participated in a performance of “FEEL THE SPIRIT”  a John Rutter arrangement of some of these spirituals.  We sang songs of longing and sadness:  “Steal away to Jesus,” and “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.”   But there is also a more celebratory tone in “Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart I pray,…. Do Lord, remember me” and of course a song now popular in the Christian hymn repertoire,  “When the saints go marching in,.. O Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in.” This was my particular poignant moment on this anniversary of my late husband’s death. Chris was choir master in our parish but generally conducted the more sedate repertoire. But nevertheless, for me, when my time comes “I’d like to join him in that number when the saints go marching in.”

Afterwards I believe I experienced a further tiny taste of the life of a migrant. I went home, alone and, I must admit, lonely.   TR FAMILY WEEKLY 26 JUNE 2019

For details of the DAY OF PRAYER FOR MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES visit     Also see Pope Francis Message for World Day for Migrants and Refugees on 29 September 2019.

1 Comment

  1. Mitzi

    Thank you, Toni. This had particular –and poignant– meaning for me, too.

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