Recovering the importance of Cemetaries
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
I have been visiting the Massillon, Ohio cemetary yearly for as long as I can remember. Each year, as a child, we would see the Memorial day parade and continue to follow the parade as it ended in at the cemetary. Later, as I grew older, we would ride our bikes to the parade (that was several miles away), and finally, as I went away to college, medical school, etc, I would drive back and visit yearly.
My mother was an incredibly loving but wonderfully intense person. She had certain things that she deeply cared about. Some of it was quirky, like making sure that we had a black eyed pea in our wallets at new year (sign that you would have money all year round). However, one of the things that she literally mourned was the idea that when she passed that her gravesite would never be attended to. She understood that her chldren were passing into a mobile generation who would not live in Massillon, OH. Despite my deepest reassurances, that no matter where I was, I would always make time to honor her through gravesite visitation and maintenance, the concept of being forgotten would drive her to tears.
I have been keeping up my promise and have continued to visit her gravesite yearly. This week, as I tended to the gravesite of my parents, and wandered among relatives and friends who have passed, I mourned the loss of the cemetary as a civic institution. The memorial day parades have been supported now by mostly gray haired people and their were fewer people visiting, despite a beautiful sunny weekend. Many of the gravestones around my parents and grandparents graves are unkept, with weeds and grass covering them. The chill of my mother's deepest fear, manifest a thousand times over and over.
I want to encourage you to take time and visit the burial places of those who were important to you. As we recover this rich art, several things happen:
1. We demonstrate honor to those who have passed and we keep them alive through intentionally remembering.
2. We rebel against the culture of busyness and hypermobility. We take time to stop and just reflect. This simply makes us greatful.
3. We contemplate our own lives against the backdrop of our own mortality. We too will die. Contemplating our own mortality allows us to "Live like we are dying". It allows us to value the important things of prioritize life.
4. We recognize and identify that we are part of a legacy. Visiting a cemetary allows you to understand familial, cultural, and civic stories. The people who lived before and shaped the people, places, and opportunities that we have today.
So I hope that this weekend, beyond the ribs, beyond the parades, and beyond the retail store weekend sales, that you will take some time to visit the burial places of those who have impacted or influence you.
Thanking God today for wonderful parents and friends who are now with Him. Thanking him for health and strength to keep up my promise to my mother and inspire others to do the same.
God bless you today,
Pastor M Traylor