I rounded the corner by the Catholic cemetery on my way to the post office. I was about half-way through my errands: pharmacy, dry cleaners, post office, library, grocery store. As the made my turn, the old cowboy in the cemetery caught my attention. That’s interesting, I thought. Maybe his wife died recently.
I went on to the post office and noticed he was still there when I got back on to the street. Hmm. I wonder who he’s visiting? What’s he thinking? What’s he feeling? I began to think about him, wondering.
Cemeteries are interesting places. I love wandering through old cemeteries, looking at the gravestones. I’m always curious as to the stories of people’s lives, wondering what history was buried along with the body.
I’ve officiated a lot of funeral and memorial services. About half were at cemeteries and half in special locations selected by the person whose life we were celebrating. When a service ended at the cemetery, I often visited those who I had previously officiated. Many no longer had family members in the area or they were the last of their line and had no known living relatives. Visiting was bittersweet for me.
Cemeteries are sacred places. Maybe that’s why they’re so peaceful, even if they aren’t beautiful. Each life, represented by each gravestone marking the final resting place of each person buried in a cemetery, is sacred and mattered to someone. Even if their personal history and the story of their life is remembered no more and there is no one to visit, there is One who never forgets.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 24:15-16a).
I hope the old cowboy had a nice visit.