She writes about the last act at a Jewish burial of mourners throwing handfuls or shovelfulls of earth over the casket and how this is seen as 'the last act of kindness one can perform for someone who has died, having "accompanied the soul of the person we love as far as we can go."
At Christian burials a similar tradition of throwing token amounts earth over the coffin is usually followed. By this we acknowledge that as far as the person's bodily remains are concerned, there is nothing more to be done but to complete the burial.
The physical burial work is done by the grave digger/filler, sometimes seen waiting discreetly at a distance until all the mourners have left. Why don't some or all stay and watch this or why don't able-bodied relatives help with this? Because it would be too distressing? Because our funeral clothes and highly polished shoes would get muddy? Because it would take too long? Because we don't have a liturgy for this? Because it's not the tradition? Because it tends to be be mechanised nowadays and the noise jars with the idea of leaving the loved one to rest in peace? Because we can't get away quickly enough from the reality of death? Because we want to celebrate life not death? Transformation not decay? Or because our hold on the "hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ" is not as "sure and certain" as we proclaim?
Just asking. What do you think?
Image: my photo taken in St Deiniol's churchyard, Hawarden, Wales, September 2010