Time waits for no man. We didn’t know if we were ready to do this. Didn’t
know if we could do this. But there was no choice. 11:30 A.M. Saturday, April 10, 1982
arrived. Really, how could I make it through this service.
The church stood. The organ music began. Fr. Allen carried the casket containing
the body of his buddy and our son, Gregory Charles Woehrle, down the church aisle in his outstreched arms as the congregation and all in attendance sang this song.
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His, and He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul He leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
but yet in love He sought me;
and on His shoulder gently laid and home
rejoicing brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with thee,
dear Lord beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh what transport of delight from thy pure
And so through all the length of days thy
goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within
thy house forever.
The reality of the situation we had been living for the past seven weeks hit everyone
between the eyes. The tiny casket brought big men to tears. Crying was all anyone could do. But I did not cry. I had a peace I can’t describe. A sense of calm. Strength that was not my own. I had the strong, loving arms of Jesus around me. The only analogy I can think of is that I felt like I was wearing a warm hand crocheted shawl. The kind made by the loving hands of a special grandma.
The service proceeded. There was a stained glass window on the left side of the
church. A light shown only through Jesus’ face and illuminated the space between where my brother and my brother-in-law were sitting. Neither was particularly religious, but they both jumped. Big globe lights hung from the pointed ceiling. My dad, better known by his nickname Red, was an electrician and had just rewired all the lighting. During the service, a light flicked on and off. Fr. Allen just turned around and thanked Gregory for the sign that he was with us.
It was time for Fr. Allen to speak. And he did. The words moved us. Touched us.
Spoke to us. Penetrated through us.
Then the one – two punch hit. Ever hear this expression used in boxing. You thought you were prepared for the first punch. But then the second came almost out of nowhere and took you out. Just when our emotions were at the highest level, another level came to be.
Amazing Grace at any funeral usually brings everyone to tears. At Gregory’s, it did
that and more. The words weren’t for this sweet, innocent child. The words were for
all of us. The words were definitely for me.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.
T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!
The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’tis grace that brought me safe thus far;
and grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we’d first begun.
Psalm 23 and several other moving bible scriptures were recited, and I continued to feel the warmth, joy and security of Jesus’s love and compassion for me. Undergirding me is the only description I can come up with to describe what I felt.
After Communion, I hugged and kissed all those in attendance and gave them comfort. It just blows my mind when I think of how my very heart was ripped from my body and yet I had been given comfort to share with those who came to celebrate the short life of this little baby of ours that we so desperately wanted to stay here with us.
They call it the recessional hymn in the Episcopal Church – the last hymn before everyone leaves – before the service is over. The last hymn song that day was called VICTORY. I want you to feel the emotion in the church. The deep sound of an organ expertly played. The sound of the imperfect children of God saying a final goodbye to an innocent child who didn’t live long enough to break God’s heart with selfish earthy ways.
AL – LE- LU – IA, AL-LE -LU -IA, AL- LE – LU – IA
The strife is o’er, the battle done, the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun. Al- le – lu -ia!
The powers of death have done their worst, but Christ their
legions hath dispersed: let shout of holy joy outburst.
Al – le – lu – ia!
The three sad days are quickly sped, He rises glorious from
the dead: all glory to our risen Head! Al – le -lu – ia!
He closed the yawning gates of hell, the bars from heaven’s
high portals fell; let hymns of praise His triumphs tell!
Al – le – lu – ia!
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee, from death’s dread
sting they servants free, that we may live and sing to thee.
Al – le – lu – ia!
AL – LE – LU IA, AL – LE – LU – IA, AL-LE -LU- IA
Gregory was laid to rest in the little children’s section of George Washington Memorial
Park. On his grave marker, we had the following words inscribed.
“The Best Little Boy.”
When we went to the hospital to visit Gregory, we would always ask the same
question.”How is The Best Little Boy today?” Yes, those were the words that needed to
forever immortalize our first born son.
After the service,countless people came up to Fr. Allen and asked him about the words he spoke. His reply never changed no matter how times the question was asked – “I simply held the pen – the words were given to me.”