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Graveside Service

Graveside Service for Eleanor Norris

Norwell Cemetery, Saturday, November 30, 2012


Please join your hearts together in prayer:  Spirit of Life and Love, Eternal God, the spirit of Eleanor that filled our world with goodness and love has become one with your Eternity.

From dust to dust, from spirit to spirit, from earth to earth; cleansed by sunlight and air and the gentle hills that stand watch over this place.

We dedicate this resting place into your care, and we ask your blessing for Eleanor and her family, and for those who rest beside her.

We know that Eleanor has crossed over into your eternal care, and our hearts are therefore glad, and our spirits rejoice.


Let’s join together in the Lord's Prayer:

Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us,

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,

For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory,

Forever and Ever, Amen.


We gather today as Eleanor’s friends to commit her remains back to the resting earth.

We gather out of respect, of love, of grief, to remember and to say goodbye to a wife, a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother who exhibited in her life faithfulness, decency and devotion all her days.

It is appropriate that this most intimate of goodbyes takes place here, in the open, in the company of trees and sky, birds and grasses, insects and flowers.

Here with the people she loved, graced by nature, we enact the most ancient of human rites in releasing Eleanor’s remains to earth's embrace.


There is perhaps no greater struggle for the living than reconciling ourselves with death. Death is something we all face — it is as surely a part of the great circle of life as birth and all that comes between.

In the midst of great loss and grief, we need one another to hold us up and to help us go on.

Love is the connecting tissue that gives life its meaning, and bridges us back again to the one we have lost.

And so it is to love that we appeal at this juncture.

In our darkest hours, when we have lost our bearings, love holds the lamp that guides our way back into living again.

May we be for one another that flame, and that strength.



Let’s take a few minutes to remember Eleanor together.  Any of you who wish could share a sentence or two of something you remember of Eleanor just at this moment.  I remember how vital she was down to the end of her life.  She showed me the stairway down to the back of the house where Norris Reservation begins on my last visit there; and she was disappointed but resigned that Dr. Smith had put up a 2 x 4 so she couldn’t go down anymore.  Despite being almost 100, it was probably necessary to have the wood there so she wouldn’t forget that she really shouldn’t go down anymore!


 Is there anyone who might want to add a sentence or two of remembrance at this time?


[Farewell ritual at the graveside]:  We come from stardust; all of life has emerged from the universe that surrounds us on every side.  Each of our bodies is constructed of materials which are part of this wondrous creation, this web of all existence of which we are a part.  It is fitting at this time that we say farewell to Eleanor with a remembrance of our shared source and our shared mortality.  As ancient Tradition has it, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust” – we come from the earth, and to the earth we return. As we return Eleanor’s remains to the earth, I invite any of you who wish to take some of this dirt to begin to fill her grave with this trowel, or to come and say goodbye in your own particular way.


Let’s carry with us as our benediction this prayer

by St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope,

where there is sadness, joy;  where there is darkness, light.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled, as to console;

not so much to be understood, as to understand;

not so much to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.


Amen. Go in Peace.