Today I experienced an adventure of a different kind. It was probably not a typical pick for someone who was looking for a fun outing. I happened upon it accidentally, or maybe I should say sovereignly. My daughter’s car broke down next to a cemetery. She was able to pull off the road and come to a safe stop right next the large graveyard. Her friend came and picked her up while I had a two hour wait for a tow-truck to arrive.
A marble bench under a large shade tree drew me in. The air was full of balmy breezes, and I could hear the sound of wind chimes nearby. As I looked across the expanse the thought occurred to me that all of these lives were a part of a season that was designated just for them. Curiosity caused me to get up and walk along each heading to take in the names and inscriptions. I was filled with sorrow as I thought about each person and those who were broken hearted over their loss. Things like “We will never forget you” and “Taken too young” were lovingly personalized. So quiet the field was–lives once so vibrant on this earth, now silent in the earth. I couldn’t help but make my way back to the bench and ponder on these people. What did they do with their time here on earth? How did they spend their days? If they had known when their life would expire would they have made different choices? I was captivated by this place. It held so many secrets, so many hopes, and so many aspirations once dreamed. Yet, here they all were–on the other side of their season.
I felt a sober sense of the divine as I considered these things while watching the leaves and flowers blow wistfully back and forth over each headstone. I was challenged to consider my own season, and recognize my own mortality. Oh, how we humans take time for granted, never considering the end at all. Yet, in the blink of an eye it is gone. King David was so wise to pray for God to help him understand the value of time, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
These contemplations reminded me of an article I read recently that shared the top five responses hospice patients gave when asked what they would have done differently in life. I was a bit shocked at the number one answer which indicated they would have been more themselves…the way God had made and wired them. Wow, what great insight! We were made by Him and are perfectly and uniquely flawed. Giftings and shortcomings both come from His hand, and are wonderfully fitted together for a bigger plan while on this earth. Yet, worry of what others will think or expect often hold us back. We waste so many years not being comfortable in our own skin. God never intended our personalities to be like everyone else’s, and to fully embrace His unique design may mean moving out of our comfort zones. Maybe as I share this you are prompted to think of areas in your own life where you feel it’s time to be true to the way God has made you. After all, no one can do you better!
It made me happy to think about the fact that we will be with God for eternity. Those graves were empty of the souls that are found safe in Him. In fact, for all I know they were looking down on me watching me contemplate my time on earth–in light of theirs. What an interesting experience to be struck with the soberness of time. It will be a memory etched in my mind–a gift really–a great adventure!
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)