A cemetery is an unlikely place to retreat for safe haven and I wouldn’t exactly encourage everyone to seek solace there. But, for me, it just happened that way.
My children were young, squabbling, not minding, constantly calling me. The house was a mess. So was I. Frustrated and frazzled, I grabbed my purse and asked my husband to watch the kids. I escaped to the car and just started driving. The evening sun was giving up, and so was I. I needed a quiet spot, fast. Somewhere to pull myself together.
There was a beautiful place I passed nearly every day, Sunnyside Cemetery. Oh my gosh, a cemetery. Really? I must be in bad shape. But no one there would need me, or call my name, I would hope not! If anyone saw me, they would think I was mourning someone dear, and I was. Dear me.
Driving through the narrow iron gate, I headed toward a magnificent magnolia tree and parked beneath luscious sheltering branches loaded with fragrant white blossoms. It was a breezy South Carolina summer evening, so I let the window down, turned off the car, took in a long deep breath of cool twilight air, closed my eyes, and had a little talk with Jesus.
“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence. We need to listen to God because it is not what we say, but what He says to us and through us that matters.” ~Mother Teresa
Soaking in the quiet, peaceful, absolute calm of silent stones, I lost track of time and reality of place. Just beyond the gate, the world was passing by. Cars carrying people living with purpose, many had problems, some full of joy, maybe anger, but oblivious to me in my moment of madness, or whatever moment it was I was having. Here the world had stopped. Ceased all being. Being all ceased. I wondered what others might think of me preferring cold company of the dead, rather than warmth and consolation of someone alive with caring conversation. But sometimes solitude can be your best friend, it doesn’t babble, brag, or complain. Also, easier to hear what God might have to say.
So, there I was alone. Or was I? Hundreds of human remains surrounded me, whispering their short simple epitaphs, their tiny dashes of life on earth. I felt sad they no longer existed in reality. But it was my reality from which they had departed. What was their new reality? I believe in God and His promise of eternal life, but where actually is heaven? Where is this place we will continue on forever?
“What a wonderful life I’ve had, only wish I had realized it sooner.” ~ S.G. Colette (French Author, Actress 1873-1954)
Suddenly, I experienced an overwhelming relief my reality still belonged above ground possessed of those moments to wrestle with thoughts and feelings, even the lost and confused ones. I would deal with heaven later. I had my heaven on earth with a healthy family, probably wondering where on earth I had departed.
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~Louis L’Amour (American Novelist 1908-1988)
Whispering a prayer of gratitude for time to reflect, I said goodbye to the patient congregation surrounding me, cranked the car, drove out slowly listening to the gravel crunching beneath my tires, back through the narrow iron gate, and headed home.
The house was oddly tranquil, kids settled in front of the TV, as if I’d done everyone a favor removing myself. I knew this quiet scene would not last long, but at least I had gained a fresh perspective.
My husband asked me where I had been.
“Communicating with the dead,” I said.
“What did they say?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”