We went to a funeral today. Left home early to insure that we didn't have too far to walk, and that we were able to find a seat close to an entrance (exit).
It was a Roman Catholic Funeral Mass, but held in the Cawston Community Hall, - full of family and friends. As we sat and waited for the Hall to fill and for the family to arrive I looked around this old building, full of memories and nostalgia. Remembering dances and May Days and playing badminton and the old barrel stove that served to keep us warm.
So many changes over the years. Alec, who was being buried today, was a young boy of eight when we first came to this Valley. He was the oldest son of our neighbours who lived on an adjoining ranch - a separate Reservation granted to them when Victoria was Queen. I remembered watching the funeral cortage of his Grandmother as it wound up the valley floor, accompanied by two circling eagles.
The friends who came to say farewell were school chums, range riders and fellow cowboys, all of the people who form close attachments in a small community. They filled up the space around us, and one of the pluses in approaching antiquity is that you see these friends of Alec's generation as they were when our own children were young, and as they have grown to maturity and now approach their own retirement age. It does give one a pressing feeling of passing time!
The Mass, so like our own Anglican Communion Service, was comforting and familiar, and the lovely, sweet a Capella singing that accompanied the arrival and departure of the coffin touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
Alec's mother died a few months ago, and as at her funeral it is the beautiful participation of the whole native community that fills me with awe, and we value our friends amongst them.
Part of the eulogy was this poem, read by one of Alec's young relatives.
The Cowboy's Prayer
Our Heavenly Father, we pause at this time, mindful of the many blessings you have bestowed upon us
We ask, Lord, that you will be with us in the arena of life.
We as cowboys do not ask for special favors.
We don't ask to draw around the chute fighting horse, the steer that won't lay, or to never break the barrier.
We don't even ask for all daylight runs.
We do ask Lord, that you will help us live our lives here on earth as cowboys, in such a manner that when we make that last inevitable ride, to the country up there, where the grass grows lush, green and stirrup high, and the water runs cool, clear and deep,
that you'll take us by the hand and say -
"Welcome to Heaven cowboy, your entry fees are paid.".