When someone drops a rock into a still pond, ripples spread out in all directions. In this way, everyone touches and effects those they know and meet in small, subtle ways. The closer you are to the rock when it hits the water, the bigger the impact of the waves.
We all have so many stories about my beloved uncle that we shared yesterday and will share today. We will continue to tell such tales and stories over the coming days, months, and years. Being an Irish wake, today is as much a celebration of his life and memory as it is for those who miss him to mourn as we share our connection with my uncle.
His impact on all those he met was like the ripples when the stone hits the water. As far as people in this world are concerned, he was a very big stone, sending out the ripples in all directions.
The stories we have about him make up the myths and legends that we pass among each other and to those we know. Everyone who met him and were impacted by him become one of these ripples.
The Irish blood in my uncle cannot be denied. His love of music, both singing and playing, as well as his love of storytelling is very Irish. The Irish have a powerful love for moving and being moved by both joys and sorrows through song, music, poetry, and stories. I believe he shared such joys and sorrows through his playing his guitar, singing songs, and telling stories.
In the 7th century, a poet wrote a poem which some consider an Irish mystery teaching—the Cauldron of Poesy. In it, there are three cauldrons which everyone has within them. One of the cauldrons is the one located in the area of the heart. This cauldron is about relationships and how we connect to the world around us—to people, to animals, and to nature itself. The poem explains that the way the cauldron grows in power and is strengthen is through both joy and sorrow.
The joy that my uncle brought into this world and the stories we tell about him and our interactions with him help us be more human, to be more in touch, and more in connection with those around us—all because of how he impacted each and every one of us.
The sorrow we feel at this huge hole in our hearts, as the rock in our life that he was, is tremendous and hurts us all who loved and knew him as we feel the ache of this emptiness. This loss connects us to each other as we come together to remember him.
It also helps us connect with the world around us as when we see someone else hurting from a loss, we can think of our loss of my uncle. When we see someone doing an act of kindness, helping someone else out without asking anything in return, that joy when you know the person with you truly loves you from deep within their heart, we will think of my uncle and that joy will help us be like a ripple from the stone as it dropped into this pond that is our world.
All these stories we have of him make up the myths and legends we share among each other, to our friends, and among people who are not yet our friends.
A friend of mine has a saying that “what is remembered never dies” when someone we know loses a loved one. My cousins, aunts, uncles, my mother, and brother still tell stories among ourselves about my grandparents and my father—in that way, they are still alive in a way because the stories we share keep them alive in our hearts. Every story and tale we tell about my uncle will keep him and the huge impact he had on this earth still spreading out like ripples in the pond.
One image to take away from today as we continue to share stories about just how big hearted he was or some of his pranks (or attempted pranks as the hearse story goes) or other stories of his kindness and generosity is how he made this world a better place by just being him.
Be the person my uncle was in the world and try to make a difference with the gifts you have or by sharing his stories.
And one last thing, my uncle wasn’t a rock dropping into the pond and sending out waves in all directions. He was a large rock skipping across the entire pond, every single skip as he touched down by interacting with people sending huge waves in all directions.