I sang at a funeral yesterday, though I did not know the deceased.
Actually, the opportunity came to me in a very strange way. The deceased was a woman by the name of Vera Gibbs. She was a descendant of the Nez Perce Tribe, and the family had requested someone from the tribe to give a Native American tribute. Unfortunately, the Nez Perce were unable to send anyone on such short notice, and suggested they contact the Spokane Tribe. In turn, the Spokane Tribe contacted my uncle Pat Moses, who then contacted me. I spoke with the family and agreed to sing.
The family specifically requested "Amazing Grace" in Nez Perce, but I don't speak Nez Perce. However, I told them I would do whatever possible to accomodate their request.
Then I contacted my aunt Janet Blackeagle who is in fact Nez Perce and asked her to help me. She in turn sent me the words to the Christian hymn "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," in Nez Perce. She said that particular song is very commonly sung at funerals on the Nez Perce Reservation.
Having never met the family, I walked into the LDS Church in Riverside and sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." Something strange happens to me when I sing for that kind of purpose. I can't explain it fully, but somehow my voice becomes more clear and resonating. I believe it's the spirit and really has very little do to with me. The feeling of love in that room was also tangible.
As it turns out later, I actually did know Vera's grandson Cory, who shared several education classes with me at Whitworth. It also turns out one of the other grandchildren Connie is good friends with Rhonda's best friend Madonna. By the end of the day, I felt very strongly this event was so much more than coincidence. The spirit had a hand in bringing us all together.
Another manifestation of spirit happened during the funeral. In the days leading up to the funeral, I had felt quite dark and depressed, but I couldn't really say why those feelings had come upon me. Regardless of the reasons, my feelings began to change as soon as the service began. From the moment the coffin entered the room, we all stood, and a feeling of peace settled over me and seemed to wash away all my darkness. Tears filled my eyes, and I felt truly honored and blessed to witness such a deeply personal and sacred event. In a strange way, I felt like Vera blessed me from her new place in heaven.