Delivered at the crematorium service, Banbury, Oxfordshire
28 May 2012
I can count on two hands the number of times Aunt Betsy and I met. The last time was June 2006, when Sara and I stopped by Charlbury at the end of our European travels.
I remember colors—and I remember flowers. The garden on Enstone Road was in full blossom. I remember Aunt Betsy taking great joy in pointing out every flowering and fruiting plant to me, to Sara, to Tiffany, and to Fenton—right before we nearly trampled half of the greenery in an energetic water-gun battle. And I remember Sara and Betsy pitting plums on the lawn, Betsy dressed in a pair of brightly colored patchwork pants. Do you remember those, too?
When I told my mother about Betsy's death, she gave a sigh of sorrow, then said, "She was my favorite of your father's relatives." She's said that before—perhaps because Betsy smiled more than many in the Tyler clan; perhaps because Betsy, like my mother, had a colorful personality.
In the near-sleepless hours of crossing The Pond this morning, I have wondered about colors—and flowers. We receive the most vibrant colors in this world from the most passing things: brilliant orange in the sunset, brightest green just after a rain, regal purple in an iris, softest red in a rose. The boldest rainbow comes to us through the frailest of creatures. Yet, there they are: breathtaking, lovely, desirable.
I have a deep and abiding suspicion that our Creator teaches us the most important lessons parabolically, only with the passing of seasons, only with the passing of life.
As a gardener now myself, I have learned to mourn only softly the passage of the iris, the fading of the day-lily. They will rise again when the sun next shines with a lengthening day. We will see their color again, perhaps more brilliantly for the ordeal of winter that waits between.
This I believe: the resurrection of Christ promises a new season. The bulbs of death shall burst open; the flowers of hope shall blossom; the colors of life shall spring again. They must, for that is why they were created, and the Son will shine again with a lengthening day.