Zaven Jendian – like a comet – now the stardust…

I returned from Zaven Avedis Jendian’s funeral in San Diego. I know after last night’s podcast and the musical dedication some of you were asking – what was happening? I didn’t get into details, but had to mention him and the other loss we had this week. There is a weblog available with a day-to-day of Zaven’s short life (7/17 to 8/18).

Zaven’s parents, Aleen and Micah, opened their life to all of us. They gave us a chance to share this precious life and in return I’d like to share some thoughts here from the day behind us.

Today we were all humbled by the Aleen and Micah’s incredible courage and faith. You know, life is played by a different set of rules when you have faith. We all witnessed that over the last month. We watched silently today as Micah picked up the small casket and brought it to the altar. Later he walked in procession with the sad songs of the church – and laid the casket on the grave.

The prayers of the Armenian Church are just incredible. They hit right home. They talk about the tragedy of life-ended-early, but in the context of the larger universal truths, the tragedy is mellowed.

At the grave I was asked to say a few words – a type of eulogy. I wasn’t expecting to talk, but didn’t hesitate. Aleen and Micah have a very special place in my heart. I was with them at the start of their family’s life at the holy altar a decade or so ago, and I needed to be there today as well.

I remember my mind went blank. What can you say in such intense pain? I stared the eulogy with the words “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” not only to signal the beginning, but as a petition to get some help. I figured if I invoked the Trinity, I could be the vessel for Their Holy Comfort.

This is where the Spirit led me…
We are conditioned to make sense out of the senseless. Every day we hear of children dying in wars and from famine. We turn the channel or turn the page of the newspaper. Today’s news, we can’t escape.

It may be common for people to look at Micah and Aleen with pity. But I would venture to say that the two of them would be the first to admit themselves very blessed to have been touched by Zaven’s life. And as painful as this separation is, the underlying reality that they were touched by a life from God is overwhelming.

If we really look at the meaning of the word “angel” we understand that we were all touched by an angel. Zaven was an angel that came to us. An angel is a messenger and Zaven brought us some very profound and fundamental messages, namely that life is precious. Life is delicate. That life is a blessing. I remember a couple of weeks ago when we played the John Lennon piece – written to his son Sean – he has a beautiful line in there “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It seemed so appropriate for the lesson of the day. We really aren’t in control, despite all the advances in technology and knowledge that we’ve made and all the wealth and power we’ve accumulated. We’re not in control.

Finally, the angel’s message came on his death day – on the feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God – it was a message that came through Zaven, about another parent, a mother, who didn’t understand why she had to let go of her Child.

Zaven’s life came like a comet. It was quick and judging by the size of the crowd gathered to say goodbye, this comet had blanketed a large section of life’s sky. And when comets go out of our sight, they leave a trail of stardust. I saw that stardust on top of everyone who was there today. They were being sprinkled with the love that Zaven brought to this world.

It is customary to end a eulogy, in the Armenian Church, with the wish, “May God rest his soul…” I don’t think there’s any doubt today that God has rested this tiny soul. Its now our turn to keep in mind all that this little precious life came to teach us.

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