Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Episcopal Bears?

Being a pastor does bring a variety of challenges. I read with interest how the Rev. Vienna Cobb Anderson presided over a bear funeral Saturday in Richmond, Virginia (shown at right, though Anderson is not in the photo). The bears were Zoo animals put down to test for rabies after a four year old had been bitten. Much has been written on it in the area including:

Bears' ashes buried near former habitat
Hard to Bear
Child's mother speaks out and
Why do bear's deaths illicit more sorrow than humans?

In a little web crawling to find out more about the priest who was asked to preside at the zoo funeral, I found an interesting article at Episcopal Life that told of Anderson's 25 years working with grief through a hospice, the St. Francis Center and several parish ministries. In that article, she said, "We are afraid of death. We don't know what to do. We don't know what to say. We need to learn that we don't need to know, we just need to love."

Of those (human) funerals she has worked with Anderson says, "People need the holy. They need the raw edge of holiness. They need to know that God is there in that rawness with them. They need to feel free to cry."

She went on to say, "We put Kleenex in every pew. Every single pew, to remind people that it is OK to cry. I let myself cry. It is when you let yourself be touched personally that you are able to really be moved, and to be moving and enable others to grieve ... and at the same time rejoice."

How appropriate for a priest who had long experience in helping humans work through grief at the loss of loved ones, to assist a city at coming to terms with the death of two zoo bears (Episcopalians or not), which many considered senseless.


Post a Comment

<< Home