The Longest Night. Tuesday December 21, 2021. 5:30pm. Colorado Springs, CO. Ronald Raab, CSC
Tonight, we enter the longest darkness.
We wait together for promised light.
We wait to clearly see the meaning of life
As we remember the deaths of our sisters and brothers.
Tonight, our memories recall
Steve Handen, our brother, who stood on this ground
For so many years, inviting us to become light,
So that others may be warmed by our fire.
He challenges us still to breathe deeply into
The justice we long for, the hope
That awakens in the darkness.
Tonight, we breathe the mystery of life.
We see our breath in the cold
And we hear our words of grief
That come from quivering lips.
Our shallow breaths hold sustained grief.
Tonight, in long darkness, we weep,
For our nameless who died alone.
For our neighbors who died without comfort, care, or affection.
For our people whose stories were not known to us.
For our sisters who huddled under doorways, fearful of being raped.
For our brothers who were too mentally ill to cry out their need.
For our friends who curled up near campfires to stay warm as cold slayed them.
For the stranger who huddled under a bridge taking his last breath.
For people who starved to death.
For a mother who died because she could not afford healthcare.
For a brother who could not tame his inner voices of suicide.
For our adults who were abused as children and never recovered.
For our brothers who carried their belongs on their backs and died of exhaustion.
For those who closed their eyes for the last time never seeing justice or tenderness.
For those who died of fright, whose bodies never relaxed on earth.
For our brothers who died on the street corner in daylight.
For acquaintances who drank themselves to death in a cold tent.
For our sisters who never found love.
For our brother who died covered in feces and filth after years of depression.
For our neighbors murdered in homeless camps.
For our brother who died of bladder cancer without a change of clothing.
For a friend who died waiting for a tender lover.
For our brothers who found acceptance at the end of needles.
For those who waited for a second chance and died in regret.
For over ninety marginalized human beings who died this year in Colorado Springs.
For thousands of people in our nation who will not be remembered in darkness or daylight.
So, we huddle at this columbarium.
The loose ends of life are not ours to tie up.
The uncertainty of tomorrow is not ours to control.
The loss we know in grief cannot be measured or healed.
The love we experience here opens light for our future.
Tonight, we grieve as lovers.
We hope because every breath matters.
We love because we stand on the shoulders of those who loved us.
We work diligently because love is imbedded within us.
Love rouses hope.
Hope ignites justice.
Justice brings us to dignified life.
And life is beautiful.
Let us pray:
God, beyond our imagining,
Receive our dead,
Embrace every soul,
Recall on your lips the names we know not,
Save a place at your table,
For our sisters and brothers who were not welcome in our world.
Hold forever our hearts that grieve,
And receive us all home.
In the words of Psalm 17:
Keep me as the apple of your eye,
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face.
On waking I shall be content in your presence.