In the final weeks of his life, there had been lots of heated discussions about my brother, Mike.
One discussion was about whether sometime in those final weeks he came to faith in Christ. In the red corner were his friends that said, “Definitely not!” If he had made some proclamation of faith, it was the pain speaking, or the drugs. In the blue corner were the evangelicals. They had talked with him and prayed with him. They were there when he took a first, and perhaps only, step of faith.
Another discussion, linked to the first, was about Mike’s funeral. In the red corner were his friends. Having expressed no sense of religious faith to his friends they wanted a funeral where religion was absent and unacknowledged. I can see their point. Whatever else Mike had been, he had not been a hypocrite. He would have despised something marked by hymns and bible readings. In the red corner were the evangelicals. They wanted something traditional, with a church minister presiding. They wanted something sombre and sober, something quiet and respectful.
The red corner won. Mike had chosen the music – Eric Clapton, The Who and some other favourite band. The congregation were invited to write on Mike’s coffin with a selection of coloured pens, and to cover it in flowers before it was taken away to be cremated.
Outside, we made our way back to the cars, ready to drive down to “The Pig and Whistle” for drinks and a buffet. Out of the chimney from the crematorium a trail of smoke was pouring. I wasn’t watching the smoke, but something else in the sky. It was an eagle soaring high that held my attention. In slow, silent circles, the eagle surfed the air currents.
Did you know that as a Christian symbol, the eagle represents salvation, redemption and resurrection?
Some people just saw an eagle.
Some people missed the eagle and just saw the smoke coming out of the chinmey
Me? I saw the eagle and I heard God’s message to me – Mike saved, redeemed and, one day resurrected.