Friday, December 24, 2010
These services are for the living, of course. It's what people call "closure," and we do receive some of that from these memorials and tributes.
But I'm a person who's a little on the fence about "closure." Sometimes I think we're a bit too quick to close the gate on the garden of mysteries that God has presented.
Personally, I like the gate to remain open so I can continue to ponder.
God is sovereign. God is loving. And I will probably never understand why he would choose to take such a faithful servant as my friend, or why it was necessary that she suffer before leaving. Some people are uncomfortable with these questions. But I think God's okay with ponderings such as this. Cynthia's father said it best, with tears welling in his blue eyes. "I wanted him to heal her. He didn't. But God is still on the throne."
Another mystery for me is how in life Cynthia lived in another city, but in death she became my neighbor.
I've written before about my daily runs through a nearby cemetery. Two days ago you could have knocked me over with an angel's wing as I stood on that same soft grass and watched Cynthia's casket lowering into the earth. She rests near that boy named Jacob.
Her committal gave me some "closure." But the next day I wanted to visit her in solitude.
So I ran to the cemetery.
The soil on her grave was still freshly turned and covered with strips of sod. The rough edges waited to form a complete carpet of green and her photo was placed where her headstone will eventually stand. As I gazed at her face, murmuring her name, I thought my feelings would tend toward sadness.
But I remembered something a monk told me.
Several years ago, as a young reporter, I drove to Trappist monastery in Berryville, Virginia to write a feature story. The Abbott gave me a tour of the buildings and grounds. As we walked the rolling acres, monks gathered in the stone chapel for their holy chants and the sound of their singing seemed to fill the summer trees. I gazed down to our right, and saw a row of white crosses. They followed a path that crested over a hill.
I pointed to the crosses. "What are those?"
The abbot smiled down at the grave markers.
"Those are graduates," he said.