Gathering at a time of social distancing felt incongruous, but in Thai culture literally camping out with the family at a time of bereavement is one of the highest values. Two of the funerals were conducted by the church, with permission to gather from the village authorities and local health officials. In Isaan, funerals normally consist of a four to five-day wake and then cremation either at the temple or in a field.
Steve spent many hours joined with others wearing masks, bearing witness to Christ’s gift of resurrection even as they watched a coffin burn on a homemade pyre in a grassy field. There have also been three unexpected deaths (also not COVID-19 related) in our home community in the U.S. We have been taking stock of the fragility of human life, and taking hold of the trustworthiness of God’s eternal love for us. Together with Jesus, we grieve with hope.