Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Loving Remembrance - Kirstin's Memorial Service

On July 30, 2011, family and friends of Kirstin Paisley gathered together at Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, to remember the gift she was in their lives. This gathering was a time for remembering, celebrating, loving, joking and sharing.

With many, many thanks to videographer Sean McConnell, who persevered despite

  • his own family issues,
  • technical difficulties that made him edit the whole thing not only once, but twice,
  • and a workload that, as far as I can tell, requires at least 300 hours a week.
Here is the gorgeous two-part video that intertwines Kirstin's July 30, 2011 memorial service, with the tributes that were offered during the reception afterwards, and photos of her life.

Join us in remembering...

View or download the full worship bulletin here:

Part 1: 
Remembering Kirstin: Part One from Sean McConnell on Vimeo.

Part 2: 
Remembering Kirstin: Part Two from Sean McConnell on Vimeo.

Kirstin had wanted it to be a glorious celebration, and it was.  It was also very much hers.  She had chosen many of the prayers and hymns ahead of time; it was my honor to be able to weave it all together. 

A year ago, shortly after she learned that the cancer had come back full force, I asked her what she would most like to do, if she knew she only had a few months left to live.  She started crying, and said, "To be ordained a priest, and be able to celebrate the Eucharist." 
I made, and gave her, a priest's stole.  A promissory note, that even if she were never ordained in this life, she would always - always - be a priest in the next.  She never lived long enough to make it to ordination.  But the last few times friends came to celebrate communion with us at home, she wore it, with the blessing and full approval of those priest friends.   At her Memorial Service, celebrant Molly Haws wore it, in her honor.  You'll see her wearing it, in the videos.
Kirstin wanted to be inurned in Trinity Cathedral's columbarium, where she could be present every time Eucharist was celebrated, and she was.  She also wanted some of her ashes to nourish the earth - and they will:  at the base of orchards, forests and favorite trees in the U.K., Germany, Vermont, and California, in the mountains of the state of Washington, and the ocean off the California Coast.

She wanted representatives from all of her communities to be able to serve in some way at the Memorial, and they did.  The clergy, readers, ushers, oblation bearers, choir members, and those who accompanied the ashes to the columbarium were drawn from St. Aidan's (San Francisco, CA), St. John's (Lodi, CA),  Trinity Cathedral (Sacramento, CA), The Bishop's Ranch (Healdsburg, CA), The Night Ministry (San Francisco), Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Berkeley, CA), Safe Ground (Sacramento), Loaves & Fishes (Sacramento); friends from Olympia, WA; her parents from East Wenatchee, WA, and aunt and uncle from Tennessee.  And also from her online community:  several people who knew her online, but had never met her in person were able to be present.

She wanted the reception afterwards to be fun, with music and laughter.  There was a band - which included several people who didn't regularly play together as a band.  I asked them what they wanted to call the group, and the answer came back, "Kirstin's Bluegrass Band."  I added the word "Incomparable" to the name, because they were.

She wanted great food - lots of it, with enough left over to be shared with agencies that serve the homeless.  And there was.

Kirstin also wanted us to have something to remember her by, something to help us know how much she took pleasure in baking, in gardens, in feeding others.  And in the center of all the tables at the reception were rosemary plants and a rosemary bread recipe to take home.  The recipe is here:

At the very end of the reception, as people were leaving and we were starting to clean up, Kirstin's Incomparable Bluegrass Band played "When the Angels Carry Me Home."  (If you don't know the song, you can hear a different band playing it here:  

"...No more sorrow, no more pain...when the angels carry me home."

Kirstin, you are home now. 
And we will always love you very, very much.

(Posted by Andee 8-27-2011)