Above: My Father’s Grave Marker, Americus, Georgia, Saturday Morning, March 26, 2016
Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor
Most of my Easter Triduums are meaningful yet similar to each other; they run together in my memory. The Triduum of 2016 was an exception to that rule.
The Reverend John Dodson Taylor, III, my father, was a minister of The United Methodist Church. Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease forced his retirement a few years ago. He died, not quite 71 years old, on October 30, 2014, less than a year after entering a nursing home in Americus, Georgia. For reasons I choose not to explain in this post the interment of his cremains did not occur until Holy Saturday, March 26, 2016.
I spent part of Maundy Thursday, all of Good Friday, and half of Holy Saturday in Americus. The Maundy Thursday service at Calvary Episcopal Church was the Prayer Book liturgy with part of the rites for Good Friday tacked on the end. It was Johannine, for, in the Gospel of John, Jesus died on Thursday, not Friday. The community-wide service of the Stations of the Cross at Calvary Episcopal Church at Noon on Good Friday was also meaningful. The lessons I took away from those liturgies were:
- Love is evident in the sacrifice, and
- We mortals stand at the foot of the cross, not in the position of judgment.
I knew both of those already, but hearing a priest remind me of them was helpful.
The most potent moment of my visit occurred on the morning of Holy Saturday. My mother and I were among the small group which gathered for the interment of my father’s cremains in a garden spot on the grounds of Fellowship Baptist Church, a congregation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The Reverend Wendy Peacock, the pastor there, used the Service for Committal from The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), appropriately. Covering the container for my father’s cremains with soil was an emotional moment.
I had to return to Athens-Clarke County, so I did. That night I attended the Great Vigil of Easter at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church. The liturgy was mercifully brief, for there were just four readings, including the Gospel. The day had already been long for me, so a marathon of a vigil would have been out of the question for me. The vigil was glorious, as was the 10:30 Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday, but I remained subdued. I had, after all, just buried my father.
I have known of my mortality in a visceral way since my junior college days, when I almost died violently, with someone choking me. Being dead has not terrified me, but thoughts of manners in which I might suffer and die have scared me. Watching my father’s deterioration did nothing to calm those fears. My father’s death made my sense of mortality even more real. Burying him has made my mortality even more concrete in mind. Burying him has given me much to contemplate solemnly.
Doing so will require as much time as will be necessary and proper.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MARCH 28, 2016 COMMON ERA
MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK
THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER
THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING
THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER
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