Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sights and Sounds of Heaven

I have never attended a funeral of a president or celebrity before, but  when my brother Mike passed away two years ago, his funeral rivaled the likes of one.  As a member of the Michigan State Court of Appeals, his funeral began with an impressive procession of 6 or 7 rows worth of Judges from all over the State of Michigan.  They wore their black judicial robes, the imposing color of which, made me cringe  just a bit.  I would have preferred they changed into white robes that day, giving the appearance of angels … though, I suspect  some of them aren’t.  As a marine, Mike’s funeral was concluded with an honorable military gun salute and the folding of the flag, as we stood in silence.  We were honoring a great man.  But that didn’t matter to me.  He was my brother…  a good man, a good husband, father, grandfather and friend.  I told my children to stop and take it all in… all this fanfare and such.  Then I asked them if they knew Uncle Mike was such an important man.  They didn’t.  I told them to remember that.   It was one of the best things about Mike.  He didn’t laud his position over anyone.  He was Uncle Mike… a good man.  T-shirt, khaki shorts, sockless loafers and a smile.

When his best friend and fellow judge, Ed Post, got up to give the eulogy, I knew he would do Mike’s memory justice.  What I didn’t know is how he was about to make me laugh… in the face of grief.  There, in the middle of the eulogy… in a huge cathedral of the Catholic Church… right in front of several fancy priest hats… Ed Post’s cell phone rang.  Most of us stopped breathing, some snickered.  We watched as he dug in his pocket at the pulpit.  Holding our collective breaths, in dead silence… but for the ringing... of. Ed’s. phone.  It echoed in that silent cathedral space.   Then, irreverently, he answered it.  Apparently, it was Mike on the other end, calling in to see how his funeral was going.  Over the next few minutes we heard a delightful one-sided conversation between two friends who knew each other so well, that just one of them could carry on the whole discussion.  It was completely believable.  We laughed... and cried... and, for just a moment, we felt reconnected to Mike.  It was heavenly.  As though he really was there... telling us he was alright and in a much better place,  cracking jokes just like always.

I don’t know Ed Post well.  His daughter was one of our favorite babysitters in college.  We are connected loosely as family friends, through weddings, and siblings and such.  When I ran across
 Ed Post’s photography, I was overwhelmed again. I’m glad my brother had such a good friend. I'm stunned by the way he can see beauty and the way he captures it.  Ed shows me glimpses of what I think heaven must be like.  The same  way he showed me that sad funeral day what heaven might sound like, when we are reunited with familiar voices of our loved ones, rejoicing in laughter and love. 

Ed Post’s photograph of a mountain road in the Smoky Mountain National Park inspired the following poem.  In its ethereal way, it reminds me of the path I’m on… toward the heaven I can’t wait to see.

Photography by Ed Post - click Ed Post Photography to see more beauty
Spark's Lane - Cade's Cove - Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Fall 2011
Mountain Road

In  the heart
of the mountains,
come travel this road...
colored by whispers of prayer.

With no guarantees,
its leading uncertain,
the journey beckons
each one
to come by faith,
like children.

Step tenderly then
as God calls
through beauty,
with breaths of thanksgiving
and awe.

Patricia Spreng
On May 30, 2009, my 63 year old brother passed away from an incurable, relentless, neurological disease called MSA (Multiple System Atrophy). His wife, 7 children, 6 grandchildren, 9 sisters and friends still miss him dearly.
(You can read my tribute to him here... though you will need to scroll down past a couple of my other beloveds whom I have lost in recent years. Also, for information purposes, read about him and MSA right here
Poetry inspired by the photography of Ed Post ... click  Ed Post Photography to see his fabulous photography.

Sharing with Laura Boggess at the Wellspring and

L.L. Barkat at On, In and Around Mondays


  1. Thank you, Pat. I also appreciate your reflections on Mike's funeral. You come from a wonderfully gifted family, and it is my pleasure to call you all friends.


  2. I know that road. Thanks for sharing Ed's photo. It is beautiful and so is the poem and the life of your brother that inspired it. I know you miss him. You honor him with your words.

    May God comfort all who loved this important good man.

  3. What a gorgeous photo...I can see why it inspired such beauty from you. Mr. Post sounds like a good friend. Your brother sounds like a very special person, Pat. I loved this from your poem: "...colored by whispers of prayer."


  4. What a loving tribute for your brother. The photo and your words a stunning combination.

  5. By now, you know I'm kind of a quirky gal. Did you know I really love funerals? I think they make us stop and take notice in a way few other events in life do. I think it's fitting to laugh during a eulogy. I think laughter in remembrance is evidence that the person brought joy to our lives. Beautiful post, Patricia.

  6. oh, i love this poem, this photo... the idea of stepping tenderly... and i agree with susan; such a loving tribute to your brother. i'm so glad you stopped by my place so i could find yours. blessings, e.

  7. oh patricia...this made me smile and laugh out loud..then i cried...your brother must have been an awesome man and ed a great his photo..and when i reached the last stanza of your eyes filled with tears again....

  8. This photo is just so deep. Thanks for sharing your heart here and that of your brother. And thanks for stopping by. As it turns out, I'm going to do a series on guilt -- I've been thinking a lot about that lately and you confirmed that I will move forward and write. Stay tuned.


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