Modified on: October 31, 2018
“I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful….”
(The parting words of the healer Ultima, to her protégé Antonio, in Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima)
Only a year ago this November, Lea Sharpton stood before our congregation during our annual Thanksgiving service and offered a blessing, for each of us and for our fellowship together. Lea had met with me for weeks before that service, planning and adjusting plans. On this All Hallows’ Eve, she is no longer here with us. And yet when I sit in my office beside the hearth, I can still hear her gentle, insistent voice, thinking through what elements of the service would be most meaningful to all gathered, considering how each part of the service should be done just so. She loved this place with such depth of spirit.
This past Sunday, as our congregation gathered to celebrate the Day of the Dead and Boo at the UU, Sally Hicks held hands with two devoted friends and let go of this life. Through the night before her passing and on that autumn morning, our congregation was there with her. When I reflected on the time of Sally’s death, her own words came back to me—of how much she loved this place and our people, of how much this congregation was family for her.
The losses of this life are terrible and certain. One day, each one of us will let go. And yet somehow the blessing of our lives continues on.
In the beautiful coming-of-age novel Bless Me, Ultima, a boy of only seven experiences the devastating loss of his teacher and friend, the healer Ultima. Yet as she dies, Ultima blesses Antonio. In the depth of night, her parting words fill the darkness surrounding this one that she loves so deeply:
“I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful…Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you—”
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