I am the father of four. We lost our second covenant child at eight weeks to miscarriage. To honor his memory and preserve the dignity of his short life, we named him Anselm and committed him to a Christian burial on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
His namesake St. Anselm gives us comfort in his words: “For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe-that unless I believe I shall not understand.”
We do not “understand” why our Lord has taken Anselm to himself, but we “believe” it is in God’s good providence. Thus we can “understand” that, “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
During Thanksgiving 2015, I photoshopped a silhouette of Anselm into our family photo. Just behind us is the tree where I proposed to Sarah. It is at this tree I carved a heart to symbolize our pledge of love. I was inspired by the way Issac Watts described the seal of love in, “O Let My Name Engraven Stand.” I also read the first Psalm with the emphasis on us as trees planted by the water. I asked Sarah to be my wife and after she said yes, I took her feet in my hands and washed them there under the tree.
Watts’s hymn continues with, “Both on Thy heart and on Thy hand; Seal me upon Thine arm, and wear, That pledge of love for ever there.”
Our marriage was rooted in this analogy: she was to be the fruitful tree of the Lord and I was to bless her with rivers of water. Our family picture includes that bench where Sarah sat as I washed her feet under our tree.
Three years later we returned to the foot of this tree. We came with our families and admired the heart still sealed into the bark of the tree. We also came with tears as we buried our son Anselm there. We poured water into the grave sanctifying the final resting place for our eight-week-old child. Together we asked our Lord Jesus to receive Anselm into His everlasting Kingdom.
The Psalm I had read Sarah years earlier tells us that the Lord brings forth fruit in His season and that his leaves shall not wither. Our “miscarried” child is that fruit that shall not wither for he is now “carried” in the warm embrace of our Blessed Savior.
Again I am inspired and comforted by Watts’s hymn:
“Stronger than death Thy love is known,
Which floods of wrath could never drown;
And hell and earth in vain combine
To quench a fire so much divine.”
Thank you, Jesus. We thank you that your resurrection conquers death. We thank you for embracing our little ones—especially our Anselm.
The Burial Rite for a Miscarriage
Most of our service for Anselm came from The Burial of the Dead: Rite Two, in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, 1979 Edition.
Anselm’s Funeral Liturgy in PDF: http://18.104.22.168/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/AnselmFuneral.pdf