02 October 2013

A Eulogy for Someone I Hardly Knew

My mom forwarded me the news of the death of one of our church ladies on Friday. My initial reactions were my standard “Well, that's a damn shame,” followed by “Wait, she's not that much older than Mom.”

Both of these statements are true, but for a few days, that was all I thought of it.

And then, at some point on Monday, it hit me what an actual profound effect this lady had on me, so I therefore entreat you to read the following, which was several days in the composition:

The Lady with the Hat: A Eulogy

The Lady with the Hat was Ms Nancy Borgfeldt. She is one of the first church ladies with whom I remember interacting upon our move to Saint Paul when I was six. She in fact introduced herself to Mom as The Lady with the Hat, which actually was a distinguishing feature, and pointed out that she might be harder to identify on days where the choir performed because her hats tended to clash with the robes.

Ms Borgfeldt sat on the right side of the church (an unfortunate habit which my mom has since picked up) a couple of rows in front of us, next to the side aisle. We were not best friends or anything; on the contrary, I tend to be extremely antisocial at church (I know that my being antisocial comes to an utter shock to my audience), and tried to avoid speaking to anyone at all, letting Mom do all the talking.

Despite our relative lack of personal interaction, Ms Borgfeldt left upon me a lasting, if subtle, impression.

Ms Borgfeldt often served as assisting minister (hatless, for the record), and the main thing I remember about her doing so was that when she did the readings,* you could feel that she was not doing it rote. She always read thoughtfully, pausing briefly where appropriate. When she served Communion, she always looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, “The blood of Christ, given for YOU,” with great conviction. Because she meant it.

This is to say that Ms Borgfeldt had a way of making God feel very real to me, and of showing the emotion she felt with her faith without the histrionics that one often associates with emotion in the context of God. She made manifest the love of Christ in her very being.

People like Ms Borgfeldt are why I still have faith, and I hope that she is in such a place that she can know that.

*For the uninitiated, we had a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures and another from the non-Gospel Christian Scriptures weekly, prior to the Gospel reading.


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