Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mary Ann Harding

The trees surrounding Summit Valley Cemetery...

On Friday morning I attended funeral services for Mary Ann Harding. Mary was a fairly close relative, descended from the Spokane Tribe, and later adopted by a non-Native family in Summit Valley. I didn't know her well, but she was very close to my cousin Samantha. Mary was only 41.

Initially, Samantha only asked me to sing a traditional Native song at the church, but the preacher didn't follow us to the cemetery, so with no other minister present, she asked me to perform the graveside service as well. Samantha and I stood together by the grave and sang our grandfather's song. We performed a blessing on the grave with cedar smoke, and then I blessed the crucifix by reciting the Lord's Prayer in Salish.

Standing by the graveside, I invited the people to take a moment of silence and appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us. The trees had turned a bright golden yellow and the wind made a soft sound upon the leaves. The changing seasons remind us that death brings a new phase, and those who die are born into new life.

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