This Memorial Day weekend my wife and I traveled to see family. We took time to remember our friends who have given their lives for our country, and retell some of our old favorite stories.
But we also spent some time in a cemetery. On Friday, we were laying to rest the ashes of a close relative on my wife’s side of the family in the graveyard of the church where he grew up.
Three things stood out most to me.
First, our family has deep roots in this place. We were in a town in rural Nebraska, in a small farming community, seventy-five miles from the nearest Interstate. Yet, there were almost a dozen of our family’s ancestors buried here. In a time when cross-country moves are common–it’s grounding to remember how central this place is to our family’s history.
Second, it was fascinating to see how life has changed over time. The church dated from at least 1880, and there was a notebook in the cemetery that recorded the name, birth date, death date, and cause of death for every person interred there. Aging has clearly changed: dozens of people had “old age” listed as their cause of death. And, on the flip side, there was a whole section dedicated to children who had died very young, and numerous women had “childbirth” or “miscarriage” beside their names.
Third, a reminder to be grateful. The pastor presiding at the ceremony read Ecclesiastes 3, which ends with these words:
“I have seen that nothing is better than that man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will come after him?”
Good reminder for me to enjoy the work set before me, and the gift of the time that I’m given.
Have a great week!