5.31.2011

cemetery on a windy hill.

The past 2 days were spent in South Dakota in my father's hometown with family, we were there to bury the ashes of my great Aunt Evelyn who died this past winter. My dad wrote these words about that day and I wanted to share them :


"We buried the ashes of my dear Aunt Evelyn on Sunday afternoon.  She died on Dec 30, 2010 and was cremated.  About 20 of us gathered in the cemetery 1.5 miles from Toronto, SD to commit her body to the ground on Sunday.  My father, Evelyn's younger brother and only living sibling,  stood holding the urn that held the dust that was  her body. The wind was blowing,  it was cold on Sunday afternoon. My father did not want to set the urn down, for fear that it would fall.  A sign of respect for his sister. The wind often blows in Toronto, the wind towers just erected a few miles away stand witness to that reality.  It was fitting that my Dad would hold the urn.   My father and my two brothers had gathered to dig the hole earlier that day.  They had used a shovel and post hole digger.   They know how to dig holes- many post holes have been dug by these men.  They are comfortable with these tools in their hands. The soft black earth was piled on a piece of plywood to make for easy clean up afterword.  The sod had been carefully peeled back to allow it to be rolled back and take it's place after the burial. Thought and planning had gone into this event. Evelyn deserved this. That is how you do things. The right way.
We read the scriptures that speak of the reality of  death and the great hope we have in the resurrection of the dead because of Jesus resurrection.  Evelyn had by confession and lifestyle had a clear testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. It was a solemn time,  some tears were shed, but there was also a deep sense of joy and thankfulness to God for her life.  As Evelyn would say "we were blessed" - to have known her.
Evelyn's remains were lowered into the ground. We all took turns putting a shovel of dirt on the urn. Ian thought it was fun and wanted to keep shoveling. Their was a beauty in that. Isaac was shy and didn't want to shovel. That was okay as well. It was fitting that they were there as Evelyn had given much of her adult life to placing Korean orphans in homes in the USA.    My father had brought along a stick to tamp the earth around the urn.  He knew the ground would settle and wanted to make sure it was done right.  That is how you do things. The right way.
I was privileged to read the scriptures and lead the committal service.  I found myself moved more than I expected as  I read the scriptures- I think it was the reality of the number of gatherings our family has had at that cemetery hearing those words.  Mother Audrey, Grandparents Ingvald and Lena, Stepmother Ruth,  That place holds many powerful memories for our family. It was good to think about them again, and thank God for them. It also holds the grave of great grandparents- Mathison's and Iverson's. People I don't know except by name and history.   It also helps me remember my own mortality.  Someday people will gather and they will lower my body into the ground. I am not afraid of that.
Dust to dust , ashes to ashes,  one  day God will fashion us with new bodies. I look forward to that day when we gather with all the saints, til then we will live and be about what God has before us. That is what Evelyn did.  She did it with great humility and grace. She was quiet, I am loud and like to joke.  She did not like the limelight, I do.  Both are good. Both are needful. She did each day what was before her with grace and humility.
I think of that quiet cemetery on the hill and those buried there. I am glad to have a place like that to go and remember and think. Thank you Jesus for blessing me with a family and a place. "

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