MARCH 2, 2022 (ASH WEDNESDAY)
For Christians, the Season of Lent offers a certain wisdom—that death is understood not merely as an event that occurs at the end of life, but also as an ever-present character in the story of our lives. Death is a mystery to be contemplated while we live.
For the past few years, I’ve made an annual appeal at the beginning of Lent for each adult at Saint Mark’s to undertake the work of planning your own funeral. Scores of people have done so; many have expressed how deeply meaningful this work is. If you have done so already, take time this Lent to dust off your plan, review and update it if needed. If you’ve not yet taken this work on, I exhort you to include this work this year in your observance of a holy Lent. It is indeed holy work. The clergy are happy to assist you in any way you find helpful.
Here are the documents that will serve as resources for you:
- Planning Your Funeral Guide (docx format)
- Planning Your Funeral Guide (pdf format)
- Funeral Planning Form (docx format)
- Funeral Planning Form (pdf format)
- Burial Rite: Suggested Readings from Scripture (pdf format) (You are not restricted to these readings, but they are especially appropriate.)
These documents are also available at saintmarks.org/funeral. Ideally, you would complete this planning form (or as much as you’d like to complete) and provide a copy to the Dean’s office, where it will be kept on file, and held in confidence, until the time it is needed (hopefully a long time from now!) Of course, you can retrieve it, amend it, or replace it at any time (and many of us do).
This year, I want to broaden this invitation to include preparation (or review) of your will. My granddaughter was born earlier this year, and her birth has prompted my daughter and her wife to prepare their wills. They are in their 30s; Kathy and I did much the same when our first child was born. It is never too soon to give thought to that part of end-of-life planning, including provision for heirs and designating legacy gifts for charitable agencies to which you are committed. Again, Lent is a particularly poignant time to undertake this work, or to conduct an annual review of your estate documents. For some with complex estates, an attorney will be needed. For others, this can be a straightforward exercise, and the Cathedral Foundation and the Diocese of Olympia have partnered with Freewill, a free online resource designed to help guide your decisions around estate planning and will preparation.
Kathy and I rewrote our wills a few years ago—maybe the fifth time in our lives—and we will review them again this Lent as a spiritual practice that evokes gratitude—for the blessings in our lives, for our children, and for Saint Mark’s, our alma maters, and other organizations we want to support with planned gifts.
This is holy work, my friends, wherever you are on the spiritual journey of life, wherever you are in the course of life. I hope you will embrace it as part of your Lenten observance.
Blessings and peace,
The Very Reverend Steven L. Thomason
Dean and Rector