Last week I officiated at the funeral service of a respected Tiwi man at the Cathedral in Darwin. The crowd was large. He had been involved in many aspects of community life. He had been a leader in the local Catholic school, music, football, and more.
Right throughout the service people felt free to express their feelings and emotions. There were people of all ages.
This was not a culture that I had grown up with. It is a very ancient culture, many thousands of years old.
I felt a deep connection with all present.
We shared a common humanity, and with most a common faith. There was a real belonging.
The genuine love for this man was obvious. The sense of faith real.
At various times people cried aloud and consoled each other.
There was a deep sense of the sacredness of what we were doing.
This was a rite of passage.
We, who are still on this earthly journey, are handing over our brother to the next stage of life, into the hands of God and the communion of Saints.
I spoke of God who had been present with the Tiwi people for many thousands of years, and how Jesus had brought this connection to a deeper fullness, as indeed He continues to do for all cultures.
We spoke about the death and resurrection of Jesus and how real that is. This gives us great hop.
This man shares in that resurrection.
He is also welcomed by his ancestors and all those who have gone before us into the communion of Saints.
I had a deep sense that this was my family, and I belonged.
We all need reminders of the richness of our faith.
I went away much enriched.