Wednesday, August 10, 2011


He was only 22.  The young man that we buried today.  22.  He had lots of friends and family who loved him, a "professional" sense of comedy, his own demons . . . . and a flesh eating bacteria.  Sweet Mother. 22.

Unfortunately, I've conducted funerals for young people and children before.  As with all funerals, each one has its own ethos, personality, presence.  Today the room was packed.  Over 120 chairs set out and still there were a couple of dozen people standing.  Grandparents, parents, girlfriend, and so many stunned friends. The younger faces in the room struggling with the unaccustomed reality of the death of a peer.  Michael might not have been the first friend that died, but his unexpected, freakish death was unfathomable.  Young men with bowed heads.  Young women with red eyes.

And then there were the motorcyclists.  The Barbarians (their actual name).  His father was a member of the club - perhaps he was too.  There they were, men and women, in their leather vests, boots, and sunglasses.  The bikes lined up outside with precision to provide an escort.  Somber, respectful, heartbroken.

After the service, I sat in the lead car waiting for the procession to begin.  Suddenly the bikers began to rev their engines.  Louder and louder.  A few, some, then all 25.  Rumble. Roar. The sound vibrated in my chest, pounded in my ears, and unexpectedly brought tears.  Somehow I encountered the Holy in that action.  A roar to God, putting the heavenly beings on notice. "One of ours is coming."  The motorcycles themselves wailing at the loss of one so young.

We processed through the small city, the bikers positioned in front of the hearse.  Traffic gave way to their angry engines, making space for mourning and grieving.  I looked in the rearview mirror - all I could see were bikes.  Entering the cemetery, they filed past the gravesite, leading the hearse to its destination.

Appropriate.  I never experienced an entire motorcycle club in a funeral procession before, but I felt that this was so right, so appropriate.  He was only 22. The kid was only 22.  We should all roar and wail and cry out to our God.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, powerful reflection. I love the power and passion of the roaring motorcycle image. Peace, eventually, but always memories, to those who have lost a son, friend, lover, an infinitely worthwhile child of God gone-too-soon. Peace. Deep peace, even while the ocean still roars.