Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts from a Graveyard

Today I went walking through a cemetery. Not for any particular reason did I feel the urge to walk and while walking sing many dirges but rather because when in a contemplative mood I like to walk, and a cemetery seemed the best place to muse.

Life my dear friends is an anomaly at best and at worst entirely unexpected. I found myself wandering beneath the trees ablaze with death and color while gazing on stones of cold and unearthly gleam. I thought of my life, how each and every day is filled with struggles and hopes and dreams and nightmares and how each and every minute differs so greatly that one would be hard pressed to look at two separate hours and try to draw a line between. I looked down upon the stones covered with the dead clipping of grass and the shells of leaves unrecognizable to their former glory. I knelt down and brushed aside the debris from two graves, small graves... two children, one died a year previous to the other, both lived only a few months. The hardest part of this tragedy to grasp was the fact that the entire story of a young couple trying to have children and having their precious offspring be taken from them twice in the course of two years was the fact that their entire lives were summed up in two phrases... Born... Died. Nothing was said of the hope deferred, of the hope again for a child that would live, of the joys and agony of carrying the children, of the planning of lives of the joy and ecstasy of childbirth and the sorrow and despair of loss, only two phrases... there were only four grave stones in the plot.

To think that in this one cemetery there are over one hundred and fifty six thousand stories all being reduced to two phrases, unless you were rich and could afford a eulogy, but if not only raw data was given. To think of all the monuments to death, the thousands upon thousands of pounds of stone used signify death and burial. And yet forgotten to the world are the vibrant lives of these countless men, women, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, couples...

I was struck by the image of the trees... amongst all these monuments to death as monuments to life yet even then so truly alive still touched with death. And as I stood under the trees bridging the gap between earth and sky I saw myself, a monument to death and life, standing in mockery of death, but at the same time a mockery to life. I mused at the possibility of such a grand contradiction and realized that we as humans are in fact a greater contradiction and as Christians should be even more so...

We as humans stand as living dying beings. We die living and live dying, we are truly alive yet so strongly are we being drawn to the grave that its hard to keep in mind that we actually live. From the moment we start our existence we are working toward one ultimate unstoppable destiny, death. No matter what we strive for in this life no matter how vigorously we push ahead we will never avoid the inevitable. Our bodies are made to fall and fall they do "From dust to dust".

As Christians we too are bound to the inevitable we are firmly grounded in a graveyard our leaves are dead and dying a symbol of our temporary existence. Yet one thing sets us aside from the cold glossy monuments that point to death as well... We are alive, we have source of life, though we look as though we pass away and stand dormant there is something in us that gives us hope for spring. While we are firmly attached to the grave but we also lift our hands to the heavens because we know from where our help comes. What a beautiful contradiction, dead yet alive, alive unto death and death brings life, our live comes from a death from which comes the end of death and the beginning of life everlasting, where death everlasting is no more. What a contradiction, Now we can stand as a dying mockery of death, because in us dwells life everlasting.


Today is Thursday... and Thursday inevitably is followed by Friday which is inevitably followed by saturday and so on and so forth... I am sitting here at my desk deciding where this leads when all of a sudden I am struck by the idea that time is no respecter of persons... It rolls along whether we want it to or not, our lives may stand still entirely but the sun moves on... so should we be subject to this thing which is subject to only God? I'm not sure...