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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Celebration of Life for Cindy Vrooman

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

“Unable to perceive the shape of You,
 I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love. It humbles my heart,
 For You are everywhere.”

- The Shape of Water

Katie introduces the song Good Morning from Singin in the Rain: Sung by Curran Reichert

Good Morning
, Good Morning.

We've talked the whole night through. Good Morning
, Good Morning to you. 
Good Morning, Good Morning
. It's great to stay up late. Good Morning, 
Good Morning to you.

When the band began to play the stars were shining bright
. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night.

So, Good Morning
, Good Morning
. Sun beams will soon smile through

Good Morning, 
Good Morning to you and you and you and you. Good Morning
, Good Morning
. We've gabbed the whole night through
. Good Morning
, Good Morning to you

David: Welcome to Cindy’s home

Opening Song: All Are Welcome

Let us build a house

where love can dwell

And all can safely live,

A place where saints and children tell

How hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions,

Rock of faith and vault of grace;

Here the love of Christ shall end divisions.

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found

In water, wine and wheat:

A banquet hall on holy ground,

Where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God, through Jesus,

Is revealed in time and space;

As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

All are welcome, all are welcome,

All are welcome in this place.

Victoria and Curran introduce themselves: Victoria as a leader and founder of the Emmaus Community and Curran as her important work in the community with SOS and pastor of the First Congregational community.

Victoria: As Henry David Thoreau has said: “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” And in the spirit of Valentine’s Day just past, which might be difficult for you or for someone you may know, this blessing is for you.

A Blessing for the Brokenhearted by Jan Richardson

Let us agree
 for now 
that we will not say the breaking makes us stronger or that it is better to have this pain than to have done without this love.

Let us promise we will not
 tell ourselves time will heal the wound when every day our waking opens it anew.

Perhaps for now it can be enough to simply marvel at the mystery of how a heart 
so broken
 can go on beating, as if it were made for precisely this —

as if it knows
 the only cure for love 
is more of it
 as if it sees 
the heart’s sole remedy for breaking 
is to love still 
as if it trusts 
that its own stubborn and persistent pulse
 is the rhythm
 of a blessing
 we cannot
 begin to fathom 
but will save us nonetheless.

Beth Jordan introduces the First Reading:

This reading, from the Slam Poetry of Sarah Kay, comes from an Emmaus Liturgy co-presided by Cindy and Allison, years ago, but never forgotten. It speaks of the complexities and joys of the mother-daughter relationship.

If I should have a daughter
 Instead of Mom, 
She’s going to call me Point B.
 Because that way she knows that at least She can always find her way to me.

And I’m going to paint the solar system
 On the back of her hands
 So, she has to learn the entire universe
 Before she can say, “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”

Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing, When they finally hand you heartbreak,
 When they give you war and anger,
 When they slip hatred under your doorstep, When they offer you handouts
 On the street corners of cynicism and defeat, You tell them that they really oughta meet your mother.

Meditation Song: Open My Eyes Love

Open my eyes, Love Help me to see Your face.

Open my eyes, Love Help me to see.

Open my ears, Love
Help me to hear Your voice.

Open my ears, Love
 Help me to hear.

Open my heart, Love Help me to love like You.

Open my heart, Love Help me to love.

I live within You
 Deep in your heart, oh, Love.

I live within You
. Rest now in me.

Our second reading is from the book ELEPHANT COMPANY by Vicki Croke

Dan explains the reading and ends with “when you hear the name Bandoola simply think Cindy.”

James Howard “Billy” Williams, the son of a mining engineer from Cornwall, in England, seems to have stepped out of the pages of The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.

Employed as a forest manager with a British teak company in colonial Burma, he was captivated by the strength, the intelligence, and even the sense of humor of the elephants used to haul timber.

In 1942, when the Japanese invaded Burma, Williams joined a British Special Forces unit that specialized in guerrilla warfare. Deep in the jungle, his elephant company-built bridges and ferried weapons and supplies. Cornered by the Japanese, they faced their most daunting test, an epic trek across several mountain ranges to India---and safety. The most difficult and amazing challenge was a 300-foot cliff.

Williams and his company could hear the fighting in the distance while they contemplated leading “fifty-three elephants, forty soldiers, ninety riders called Uzis and elephant attendants, sixty-four refugee women and children, and four officers” up a narrow recently hewn ledge on the side of a mountain, which eventually became the legend of the “elephant stairway.”

Bandoola is Williams favorite elephant. Po Toke is the elephant handler, who taught Williams to treat and train elephants with kindness. Elephants will follow a leader. Bandoola is a natural leader and has been chosen to lead the company and refugees to safety.

Williams knew at the outset that there would be several places where the elephants would essentially have to stand on their hind legs to reach the next step, as if negotiating a ladder---and all the while, the animals would be able to see the astonishing drop to the jungle floor below. That’s if they could be persuaded to even initiate the ascent in the first place.

What if the drivers got them started, and halfway up one of the elephants began to balk or even tried to turn around? It was too grisly to imagine. The falling animal would crush everyone and everything below.

But what about the corollary: If panic can spread across a group of elephants, how about confidence? So, could an elephant leader take this on? Elephant Bill had a lot to think about. The whole way, Po Toke kept to himself. Finally, when they made camp, Po Toke, like a jungle oracle, spoke. “Bandoola will lead.”“Bandoola will lead.”


• Sister Susan Olson

• Fr. Jim Fredericks

• Alison Clark

Offering: Servants Song

We are pilgrims on the journey We are travelers on the road

We are here to help each other Walk the mile and bear the load

Will you let me be your servant Let me be as Christ to you

Pray that I might have the grace To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey We are travelers on the road

We are here to help each other Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
 In the night time of your fear

I will hold my hand out to you
 Speak the the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping When you laugh, I'll laugh with you

I will share your joy and sorrow
 Till we've seen this journey through

Will you let me be your servant Let me be as Christ to you

Pray that I might have the grace To let you be my servant too

Eucharistic Prayer “Jesus Human Like Us” from Michael Morwood:

You have filled us, and all creation, with your blessing
 and fed us with your constant love; 
and knit us into one body.
Through your Spirit you replenish us
and call us to the fullness of life. 
And so we join the great cloud of witnesses in proclaiming your glory as we sing:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Love! [Holy, Holy, Holy...]
 Heav'n and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is she who comes in the name of the Lord Hosanna in the highest!
 Hosanna in the highest!

(C) Temples of God’s Spirit.

All: Jesus human like us.

(V) Throughout human history.

All: Jesus human like us.

(C) In our everyday loving.

All: Jesus human like us.

(V) Be our story also.

All: Jesus human like us.

(C) In every way

All: Jesus human like us.

(V) On the night before he died, Jesus was at table with his friends.
 He took bread,
 gave thanks to you, broke it, and gave it to his friends saying,

This is my body, given freely for you.”

As supper was ending, Jesus took the cup of wine. Again he gave thanks and gave it to his friends and said,

This cup is the cup of the new covenant for you and for all. And as often as you do this, do this in memory of me. Take and eat, take and drink. This is food for the journey.

Short pause for silent reflection

We rejoice to be church,
 Followers of Jesus,
 People set free
 And in our freedom
 Called to share this good news with all people
 Who seek connection between human experience
 And the Unknown Source and Sustainer of Life we call, “God.” Amen

Acclamation: We Remember

We remember how you loved us all your life. And still we celebrate for you are with us here. And we believe that we will see you
 When you come, when you come again!
 We remember! We celebrate! We believe!

(V) Oh God, Creator, Liberator, and Holy Spirit, we are blessed with the gifts of this Eucharistic table, and with all the good things, most especially our mother and sister Cindy, bestowed upon our world, now and forever. Amen.

(Alice leads:) Cindy encouraged us to be courageous and creative when it came to praying together. She loved this interpretation of the Our Father because it brought a whole new aspect to the prayer – that of the feminine divine. The mother in us all that pulses through the universe.

Let us pray together as one community united in love and remembrance:

All: Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father Holy and blessed is your true name.

We pray for your reign of peace to come, We pray that your good will be done,

Let heaven and earth become one.
 Give us this day the bread we need,

Give it to those who have none.
 Let forgiveness flow like a river between us,

From each one to each one.

Lead us to holy innocence
 Beyond the evil of our days.

Come swiftly Mother, Father, come.

For yours is the power and the glory and the mercy:

Forever your name is All in One. Parker J Palmer

Steve Lyman: Kiss of Peace:

 It is not an EASY peace.
 It is not a HALF-HEARTED peace.

It is the peace of the Spirit.

We are called to share this peace with one another all together in this beautiful community of Cindy’s family and friends! 
Peace be with you!
 From where you are, please offer to those immediately around you, a sign of peace.

Victoria: Invitation to Communion:

Welcome to the table of this welcoming community.

It is a table made for those who love.
 And for those who want to love more.

So, come, you who have much faith;
 Come you who have little.

Come, you who have been here often, and you who have not been here long.
 Come, you who are thirsty and you who are hungry,

Come, you who feel burdened and exhausted; you who feel lost.

Come to the table.
 Come, because it is our brother Jesus who invites us.

All are welcome

Communion Song: Christ be our Light - by Kamahl


Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light!
 Shine in your church gathered today.

1. Longing for light, we wait in darkness. Longing for truth, we turn to you.

Make us your own, your holy people, light for the world to see.


2. Longing for food, many are hungry. Longing for water, many still thirst.

Make us your bread, broken for others, shared until all are fed.


3. Longing for shelter, many are homeless. Longing for warmth, many are cold.

Make us your building, sheltering others, walls made of living stone.


4. Many the gifts, many the people, many the hearts that yearn to belong.

Let us be servants to one another, making your kingdom come.

Meditation after Communion:

Dan will speak briefly about the “hummingbird incident

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver: Read by Sister Maureen

When death comes
 like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me,

and snaps the purse shut; when death comes like the measle-pox

when death comes 
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
 as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
 and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence, and each body a lion of courage,

and something precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
 I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life

something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Slide Show created by Katie, Piper and the Vrooman Family.

Victoria offers the Closing

Holy One, in every moment we live in your expansive love and your tender embrace. All around us we behold your presence. All around us and within us life emerges, fresh and new, vital, sparked with zest. May we continue to expand our lives and our living, accepting the challenge and the responsibility to be co- creators with you.

May we embrace all the gifts you have given, especially of those Cindy bestowed upon us, and use them well, in love and for love. May we use our gifts with wisdom and with courage, celebrating the connectedness and seeing the expressions of your love everywhere.

May our actions and attitudes generate unity and our love bring us to communion. May we live in such a way that generations to come will look at us in you and say, “Radically amazing!” Amen.

Something Special: Final Song: "A Bushel and A Peck"

I love you a bushel and a peck
 A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck

A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap A barrel and a heap and I'm talkin' in my sleep

About you, about you
 Cause I love you a bushel and a peck You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle oodle ooh doo 
A doodle oodle oodle ooh doo

I love you a bushel and a peck
 A bushel and a peck though you make my heart a wreck Make my heart a wreck and you make my life a mess Make my life a mess, yes a mess of happiness

About you, about you
 Cause I love you a bushel and a peck

You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle oodle ooh doo
 A doodle oodle oodle ooh doo

I love you a bushel and a peck 
A bushel and a peck and it beats me all to heck

It beats me all to heck, how I'll ever tend the farm Ever tend the farm when I wanna keep my arm about you, about you
 Cause I love you a bushel and a peck

You bet your purdy neck I do

A doodle oodle ooh doo
 A doodle oodle oodle ooh doo

A doodle oodle oodle ooh doo A doodle oodle ooh doo doo

Cindy’s Favorite Poem:

Long Afternoon At The Edge Of Little Sister Pond by Mary Oliver

As for life,
I’m humbled,

I’m without words sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,

and soft as a spring pond,

both of these and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,

and so many mysteries beautiful as eggs in a nest,

still unhatched though warm and watched over

by something I have never seen –

a tree angel, perhaps, or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world to be dazzled,

then to be reflective.

It suffices, it is all comfort –

along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love, sunburst love,

or love for that smallest of birds

flying among the scarlet flowers.

There is hardly time to think about stopping,

and lying down at last

to the long afterlife, to the tenderness yet to come,

time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.

As for death,

I can’t wait to be the hummingbird, can you?

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