Bob (Robert) Runquist Eulogy
June 24, 1934 - April 5, 1997

Interment Summer 1997
Northern Minnesota

Gathering (Kraig)

We are gathered here this evening by death, the end of a good person's life, the life of Robert Runquist. Though we will mourn, for mourn we must, let this also be a time for remembering the person he was, and let this be a time for affirming the kind of life which he lived.

Let this, then, be not so much a time for brooding upon Dad's death, but time for celebrating a human life, the life that was Dad's life.

How true are the words of Kahlil Gibran who wrote: When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

By our presence here this evening we pay tribute to the memory of one who was an important part of our lives, who was dear to us, to show our love and respect for the person he was. And so we have come together. It is right and fitting that we have come together. For a human life is sacred, and so is its ending.

Affirmation (Doreen)

Death has gathered us here for the end of Dad's life. Let us not just mourn, though mourn we must, for we suffer a great loss. Let us also remember the life that Dad lived. And more than remember, let us affirm and celebrate that life as an expression through life and love of a divine impulse.

Each of us lives between two eternities. Each birth causes us to wonder what where the spark of life comes from. Every death makes us wonder what of that survives. What we do know is that every human life--with a mind to think and a heart to love - is an expression of the will of life - the Spirit of God.

Then in every personality, if we know how to look, we can see ample evidence of divinity. Bob brought life and Love into our lives and into our common world. Through Bob we have discovered an aspect of God. This is how we discover God, through and in a life like our own.

Though death claims everyone, there are certain qualities of our lives that will never die, but will live on in this tangible realm between the two eternities of birth and death. So, even in the midst of our grief, let us affirm and celebrate the life of Bob because

A human life is holy
For it comes from God
And it returns to God.
A human life is holy
In its becoming.
A human life is holy
In its living.
And a human life is holy
In its dying.

The Cost (Turner)
Death is not too high a price to pay
For having lived. Mountains never die,
Nor do the seas or rocks or endless sky.
Through countless centuries of time, they stay
Eternal, deathless. Yet they never live!
If choice there were, I would not hesitate
to choose mortality. Whatever fate
demanded in return for life I'd give,
for never to have seen the fertile plains
nor heard the winds not felt the warm sun on sands
beside the salty sea, nor touched the hands
of those I love--without these, all the gains
of timelessness would not be worth one day
of living and of loving; come what may.

Thanksgiving (Julie)

We are thankful for the gifts of life even though our individual lives are "rounded by a sleep".

We are thankful for Dad's life. We are glad to have seen his face, to have been influenced by his personality and ways, to have loved him and to have been loved by him in return.

We are thankful that time lessens and memories heal the grief we feel at death, bringing ever deeper understandings and a more loving acceptance of him who has died.

We are thankful for the comfort we give one another.

We are thankful that Life continues, passing from generation to generation.

We are thankful for the love that never dies. It is true that "love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Homecoming (Mark)
The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang - home-going. So the snowflowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea; and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures - daily, hourly, perhaps every moment--sink into death's arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit --waited on, watched over, noticed only by their maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny.

All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded in perhaps the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life's feast--all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our sisters and brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven's blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return.

Candle of Memory (Linda)
From this candle we light a candle in memory of Bob's life. Let this flame symbolize all human life as well.

It is a fragile flame, and it can be extinguished by the vagaries of a gust of air - one of the guises of fate. But even if fate does not end a life unexpectedly, the burning flame will eventually consume the candle. Like us, the candle has its allotted span to burn.

Yet, while it burns - for a short span or a long span of time - it radiates light and heat. And flame kindles flame; life begets life. The glow and heat, the passion of life are passed on; so long after the candle is extinguished, the fire of life and love still burns. A human life also continues in the lives it has both engendered and influenced.

Stare at the flame of Bob's life then look away, or shut your eyes. As the eye remembers the light, so the mind remembers the person who has died.

Though the flame of Bob's life has been extinguished, our memory's eye still sees the person and our mind remembers the power of his personality, how he walked through his time and world and touched and shaped our lives.

Individual Statements (all who wish)

Beauty Never Dies (Julie)
Do not stand at my grave and weep-- I am not there, I do not sleep.
A am a thousand winds that blow.
A am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night
Do not stand at my grave
And weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.

Intentions (Kraig)

It is good to be together at this time and in this place that Dad wished to be laid to rest, because we need not only the blessings of this place, but the blessings we can give one another. We have been gathered here today by death, but it is not really death, but life, that has gathered us here - the life that was Dad's and the life we share. It is because Dad loved us and we loved him that we honor his wishes with these words of intention and by returning his body to a place he loved.

In an immediate and very real way, because this is such a final and physical act, this is the most difficult one we must do when someone whom we loved has died.

Yet as we stand under the rounding dome of sky, with the resilient earth beneath us and water moving by us, we reckon things timeless and reassuring.

Committal (Mark)

In committing the remains of Dad to the hollowed waters of Kelly Lake and to the keeping of eternity, we do so with a deep reverence for the body as a creation of the Divine - a unique expression of an Eternal and Abiding, though Mysterious Love.

 Under the round dome of eternity, the earthly remains of Dad shall now rest in peace. This resting place is consecrated by our memories of and our love for him, but even more by the person he was and lived.

(Lay remains to rest)

Spirit of Life and Love, Eternal God, the spirit of Dad that filled our world with love and delight has become one with your eternity. Grant to us who grieve this death forgiveness, a sense of comprehending compassion, and a meaning in which all things are understood and made whole. May the love in our hearts join us together in richer ways than before and, in time, lead us to the peace that passes understanding. We know that Dad's spirit will always be with us, his love for us and our love for him will never die.

Final Farewell (All)

We are glad Dad lived. We cherish his memory. In love we will remember him forever. Thinking of Dad in this manner, let us go in the quietness of spirit and live in charity with one another.

We leave our dead to the keeping of this peaceful and consecrated lake. With respect we say farewell to Dad.

Postscript (All)

Dear Mom,

The campsite on Kelly Lake was taken. It is not the campsite that was there when I went up, but down the shore about 100 yards from the original site. The original one was nicer as it was right next to where some rushing waters emptied from one lake into another. The old campsite was overgrown with brush and trees taller than I was - I couldn't tell where the tents used to go. I couldn't believe it had been probably close to 20 years since I was there.

So we went to the next lake and set camp up, had an early dinner and went back to the spot where the water enters into Kelly Lake. There were some big rocks and the mosquitoes where not too bad. It was a gorgeous still night, and we couldn't hear or see the people at the other campsite. We gathered in a semi-circle and began reading the "service." We placed Dad's remains up on a big rock and placed the flowers next to them.

We all took turns reading our parts. If someone couldn't finish reading their part, someone else jumped in. When it came time to sprinkle his ashes, we opened the box and had a wooden scoop and each threw some in the waters rushing by. Most people said a final farewell and Doreen threw an extra scoop for Erin and said that even though Erin was little, she still recognizes Dad in pictures and will never forget him. Linda did some scoops for Claire and Emma and Julie for the memory of any yet unborn children. After we all had a turn, Kraig dumped the rest into the current. 

I'll never forget that boiling, rolling water that turned charcoal gray like a ribbon out into the lake. It seemed like a long time until the water ran clear again.  When it did, the rocks under the water held some of the heavier silver ashes, looking much like what is left on a rock after a canoe scrapes against it, only brighter. Kraig thought Dad might be thirsty, so he squirted some Jim Beam in the current. Even the next day, I could still see it I thought it was a great place to be laid to rest and I felt like a load had been taken off my shoulder on the walk up to the canoes to leave.