Known Only By God

county_poor_450vOn Wednesday, May 29 at noon, I am participating in the 28th annual Interfaith Memorial Observance for Indigent Persons. This service is dedicated to celebrating the lives of more than 300 people buried by the Office of the Cook County Medical Examiner in the last 12 months. The service includes a reading of the names buried over the past year, musical selections and devotional statements by representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian faiths. Some of those that are buried are listed as unknown. The service gives the community a chance to serve as a surrogate family for those who died poor and alone.

My role in the service is to read about 30 names of people, who I do not know, who I have no connection. In the last few days, I’ve read my list of names over and over and worked on the pronunciation of their names. Imagining what kind of life they lived: where they lived, what kind of families they came from, how they smiled, laughed and cried.  Maybe those around them had abandoned them or couldn’t afford to pay for a burial. Or they choose to walk away from their families and died alone. I may never know their stories, just their names. But each name I read is Known by God.

I am so humbled to participate in this service. I am honored to be a part of a ministry that hosts these type of events for the community.