Funeral Sermon for a Mother Who Loved Sunflowers

It points itself to the sun as though it’s the beginning and the end. It seeks the sun for energy and nourishment. It needs the sun in order to look like the sun. And, indeed, as it blossoms it does resemble the heavenly sun while deeply planted in earth’s ground.

Wow. Am I talking about a beautiful flower or am I talking about our beautiful faith? Or, am I talking about both?

Believe me, today it’s about both. Margaret’s adopted persona is the sunflower – a beautiful creation that represents so much of our lives if you let a little poetry describe it for you. Margaret didn’t adopt but embraced the beauty of our Catholic faith and reflected it through her marriage, children, friendships, volunteering and most especially in her prayer life.

You know what? You can’t see what I’m saying so you’re never sure if I’m talking about the sUn or the sOn.

Each of us has been firmly planted in this journey of life. Each of us reflects something greater than ourselves. Each of us resembles something or someone else.

You don’t believe me? Jesus resembles God. We are made in God’s image, so see if you see the resemblance in anyone you encounter.

William Blake wrote a short sunflower poem. It’s pack with meaning and for us this Saturday morning it’s packed with feeling.

“Ah! sunflower, weary of time,” he wrote. Because time is limited, one singer contains it in a “bottle.” “If I could make days last forever, if words could make wishes come true, I’d save every day like a treasure and then, Again, I would spend them with you.” Between how much sewing, socializing and golfing can we measure Margaret’s quality time … time spent with family and friends. And her gift for always making new friends no matter where she lived.

Blake continues, “Who counts the steps of the sun.” Limited time times our steps as though contained in a bottle or a box. “Seeking after that sweet golden clime,” Blake wrote. Prayer allows those upward steps to be taken. Prayer makes time, timeless – it takes away earth’s bottle or box and opens us up to the boundlessness that we call “God.” Blake says, “Where the traveller’s journey is done.” That’s why we gather in prayer today. What earth calls “timed out,” our faith assures us that that time now becomes timeless.

“Where the youth pined away with desire,” Blake wrote, brings about a loving marriage of 58 years along with children forced to sing Irish songs. (But that’s okay.) Here’s the line from Blake that I like the most because it speaks to Margaret and all of us, “And the pale virgin shrouded in snow.” Margaret’s beautiful “virgin” body, virgin meaning that which is created by God experiences fifty years of back pain until finally relieved in her third and final chapter of life. (I guess finding the right doctor is good advice!)

Funerals are not only about someone we’ve lost but it’s also about a renewal of our own timed-earthly journey toward heaven’s-timelessness. Who do we resemble to our family and friends? Who do we represent in our words and actions? How can the image of Margaret’s sunflower speak to us?

Blake concludes, “Arise from their graves and aspire, Where my sunflower wishes to go.” We pray this Saturday for Margaret’s new life redeemed through Christ. We pray that what she resembled for many, many years grounded on this earth, she now becomes forever in heaven.

But wait! I’m still not sure who we’re talking about. Is it about a sunflower or is it about Margaret? Is it about sUn or is it about sOn? Or is it all of it?

Ah sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellor’s journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
William Blake

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                               Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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