Isn’t it odd how often life imitates art?
Since I was in my hometown for a book signing, I stopped at the cemetery to “visit” with Dad and all the other relatives. Yes, I know Dad isn’t really there, but this is the place that represents closure for me.
I don’t believe in talking to the dead, but I often ask God to talk to Dad and others for me. I imagine the group of saints sitting in chairs like the scene in “Our Town,” that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews watching me as I roam among their graves.
I stopped in front of the gravestone that represents the woman who led me to Christ. “God, oh God – tell Matilda how much I appreciate her. She told me about Jesus and helped me understand how to become a Christian. What a wonderful woman she was!”
“And God, here’s Lydia’s shell. She taught Sunday School when I was little. Tell her thank you, please. She was a sweet reminder of your love.”
The tune of “Thank you for Giving to the Lord” by Ray Boltz filtered through my soul.
“And God – here are Dan and Alma – neighbors who flew to heaven just eight weeks apart. They loved each other and they loved you.”
My father-in-law, Jake. “Tell him, God, how much I loved him. I miss him.”
The grandparents and great grandparents I never knew. “Do they know about me, God? Are they proud of me? Are you?”
So many babies’ graves. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, so many little ones lived only one or two days. Was it SIDS or a childhood illness, something simple like the croup that we can cure so easily now with antibiotics?
I imagined God watching over his heavenly nursery and loving each baby.
Then I knelt before Dad’s stone and brushed some of winter’s dust from his name. A few tears, a soul hurt. “The family will be together soon, Dad – at the farm. I loved being a country girl. Mom is in assisted living now. She has Alzheimer’s, and she still misses you. We all do.
“Do you know, Dad, that I’m a published author now? Has God told you about my books? Some of your life and your journey is in those books. Those years of dementia, as you struggled to communicate with us and then just stopped talking – I used those experiences in my plots. I wanted caregivers to be encouraged, to know they are doing holy work, caring for their loved ones. Ah, Dad – I miss you so much.”
A wind blows through the trees, rippling the cedars that border this Mennonite cemetery. All alone in this place of legacy and influential lives, I sing that old Easter hymn, “Lo in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior. Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord…He arose. He arose. Hallelujah Christ arose.”
As I leave the cemetery, I add my own hallelujahs, anticipating the day when those graves will open, the bodies of those saints will join their souls in heaven – and I, thank you Jesus, I will be close behind them.
©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo