SANDERS: Why can’t we love all God’s creations?

Published 10:50 am Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I have performed a number of eulogies. I am not sure why I am asked to eulogize certain persons, but I accept the duty and consider it an honor. But I never performed a eulogy like the one I did on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

I performed the eulogy for a state official: State Senate President Pro Tem Michael Figures. He was my friend who rose to the highest position in the Alabama State Senate and the first African American to obtain such a position. I performed the eulogy of a former state official: Senate President Pro Tem Hinton Mitchem. Hinton and I didn’t appreciate each other in the beginning but eventually grew to love each other. I performed the eulogy for Kirk Wheeler, a retired school principal and retired Navy man who lived in Tennessee. He was my friend.

I want to share my philosophy on funerals. First, funerals are not for the dead. The deceased has already transitioned from his/her place of pain and struggle to a place of peace. Second, funerals are for the living. Funerals should help the living to transition from places of pain and loss to places of peace. Third, to achieve transition for the living, I try to get people to understand that something much greater than we humans is at work and this greater being knows what they are doing. Fourth, I try to help the living understand that their loved one has avoided greater pain and suffering which we cannot foresee because of our human limitations. Fifth, I try to get the living to laugh at the unique ways of the deceased. Sixth, I lift good memories, which helps to release the pain derived from great loss. And seventh, I try to help the living feel good about their roles in the life of the deceased.

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This particular funeral, however, did not lend itself to all these approaches. So my eulogy was a heartfelt prayer. “God of the universe, God of every single thing, including every human, every plant, every animal, everything – we come seeking to connect with your spirit. We come seeking a closer connection with you and with one another. This is a time of great pain for Carolyn and Sharon and all who are experiencing pain because of the death of Georgia Aziza Belle Wheeler. We come asking your help in dealing with that crushing grip of pain and suffering.

Carolyn loved Georgia. Georgia loved Carolyn.  The same is true for Sharon. Kirk, who has passed on, loved Georgia and Georgia loved Kirk. Others also loved Georgia, including me. There is nothing like love to bind us one to the other. However, the very love that binds us together causes great pain when the bond is broken by death. But we know that you, God, loved Georgia best. Your love for all your creations is perfect while our love is very imperfect.

Carolyn and Sharon, when death seemed imminent nearly a year ago, you both extended her life for another year through your loving efforts.  You cared for her. You took her to the doctor. You nursed her. You held her. You soothed her. You did all you could do. I prayed for Georgia as she struggled for life. Nothing more could be asked of you. I know because I observed your efforts first-hand. I am sure that Georgia appreciated your determined efforts.”

Yes, this eulogy was truly unlike any other I performed. First, this eulogy was done over the phone. The funeral was in Tennessee, and I could not be there.

I agreed to do the eulogy by phone because that is what Carolyn and Sharon wanted. Second, it was the shortest eulogy I have ever done. Still I hoped that even this short eulogy over the phone would help the living transition from places of pain and loss to places of peace. Third, I had my own transition to make for I also knew and loved Georgia. Georgia Aziza Belle Wheeler died in Montgomery. She was taken home to Signal Mountain, Tennessee, for her last rites.

I could not go to Tennessee, so I did the best I could. Georgia was deeply loved. She will be truly missed. I know Georgia Aziza Belle Wheeler is in Dog Heaven
Whom we love still amazes me. What we love still amazes me. These things should not amaze me because I know that God created everybody and everything and loves all creations. Why can’t we love all God’s creations?