Laurie L. Church’s reflection immediately after her ex-husband’s funeral, as transcribed by her daughter, Alexandra L. Burke, February, 2001, in honor of the showing of Robert M. Church’s paintings at the Canessa Gallery, 708 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA, 94111 (415) 296-9029, at their son Christopher’s tremendous efforts—
Memorial Services for Robert Church
Lo, once more the fields have ripened to the harvest and the fruitful earth has fulfilled the promise of spring. The laborer’s work is done; he has sown and he has reaped; he has planted and he has gathered. How rich and beautiful the store: the golden grain, the clustered corn and the grapes of purple and green. The crimson apples and yellow pears and all the gleaming colors of orchard and garden , vineyard and grove. Season follows season, each clothed in its own radiance: after winter the spring, after summer the harvest-laden autumn. From bud to blossom, from flower to fruit, from seed to bud again, the beauty of the earth unfolds. From the harvest of the soil let us garner a new harvest of the heart and mind: a harvest of firm resolve to be the careful husbandmen of our best gifts and opportunities. A harvest of reverence for the wondrous power and life at work in things that grow and in the soul of man; a harvest of gratitude for every good which we enjoy, and of brotherhood for all who are sustained by earth’s beauty.
How beautiful is the morning, all light in its tranquillity. Clear blue is the depth of the heavens; the waters are transparent in the valley. The sweet grass is an emerald floor; the vesture of earth is aglow with rejoicing life. The encircling sea, the breaking waves upon the rocks; the serenity of inland calm; the friendly trees of the forest, their noble forms, the quiet glades; the flowers of hill and valley, the swelling downs, the hamlet that nestles below; the country, mine own people unutterably beloved, whose future I long to know; the children most precious, most to be revered, born of heaven to be soldiers of life and light: The glory of life is upon me; the vision is a pure delight.
Let us call to remembrance the great and the good, those who were leaders of the people by their judgment, giving counsel by their understanding and foresight; wise and eloquent in their teachings; and through knowledge and might, fit helpers of the people. All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times. There be some who have left a name behind them, and whose remembrance is sweet. And there be some who have no memorial, but their righteousness hath not been forgotten; and the glory of their work cannot be blotted out. For the memorial of virtue is immortal, because it is known with God and with men.
Poem by Thomas Wolfe
Some Things Will Never Change
Some things will never change.
Some things will always be the same.
The voice of forest water in the night, a woman’s
Laughter in the dark, the clean hard rattle of
Raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows,
The delicate web of children’s voices in bright air—
These things will never change. The glitter of sunlight on roughened water, the glory of the stars, the innocence of morning, the smell of the sea in harbors---
These things will always be the same. The feathery blur and smoky buddings of young boughs, and something there that that comes and goes and never can be captured, the thorn of spring, the sharp and tongueless cry—
These things will never change.
The leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth. All things belonging to the earth will never change. All things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth, these come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever.
Only the earth endures, but it endures forever. The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change.
Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the building trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower—
Something bursting from the earth again, forever death less, faithful, coming into life again like April.
The Lord is my shephard. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runnesth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Music—Lorna Adams, Alexander Post
Bach ‘Stay Thou With Me’
Pursell ‘The Night is Come’