On Saturday, September 8, 2012, a Memorial Service was held at Grace Cathedral for Diana W. Young, beloved wife of George Young, beloved mother of Melinda and Mollie. I was asked to say a few words during the Service. Here is an edited version of what I said:
I have known George Young for some thirty-five years; so of course I have known Diana that long, as well. As I was thinking about her this week three words came to my mind: cherished, human, and grace.
Cherished. Psalm 90 was written during the Old Testament period of history, perhaps when Josiah was King, to comfort those facing a series of great calamities. Flash forward to the eighteenth century, when Isaac Watts was alive, in England, and they were facing a similiar series of calamities. Isaac was inspired to paraphrase Psalm 90, to comfort his Age, and—— set to a tune from the organist at St. Anne's Church there—— it has become one of the great hymns for all Ages. in fact, in England, it has become virtually a second national anthem, played at all kinds of memorials: "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come..." The hymn has a stanza which runs: "Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day..." They fly, forgotten... That was the Old Testament picture of death: the duty of the living is to forget the dead.
Christians overturned that idea, and said the duty of the living was to remember the dead. So was born the Christian calendar, remembering events, remembering its heroes, year after year, remembering, remembering, remembering. And at the center of its liturgy, the Church enshrined Jesus' own words, where he took bread and wine and told them to "do this, so as to remember me" or, in the more ancient words, "do this, in remembrance of me."
So, this service today is not the end of our remembering Diana. It is but the beginning. Our lovely task: to remember everything about her, and to remember it again and again and again. The question is, what in particular should we strive to remember, about her? For me, it is that she was cherished, that she was human, and that she was filled with grace.
Human. What I remember about Diana is how completely human she was. We often give awards to people for extraordinary accomplishments, but I think we should give awards to people who are just real good at being a human being. Warts and all. Diana was that. She was wonderfully, completely, human. And she was good at it. That is what I will always remember about her. Along with her smile.
Grace. On the bedrock of that humanness, however, comes into the life of every Christian——(and Diana was a Christian; she was baptized in this very Cathedral)——something mysterious and wonderful called "grace." That is, God's presence in everyday life, radiating love and creativity. And oh! was Diana creative! She could gild everything, with silver and gold transforming the ordinary in everyday life. She not only had the soul of an artist; she was an artist. Exhibiting grace. Exhibiting love.
We are not a Forgetting tribe; we are a Remembering tribe. So today, we begin our remembering. Think about her. Talk about her. Never forget her. Diana was and is: Cherished. Human. Filled with Grace.