In the Jewish faith, when our Jewish brothers and sisters visit a grave, the custom is to place a small stone on the grave. This shows that someone visited the gravesite and that the deceased has not been forgotten.
I remember when I was a young child my grandmother would take me to play in Oakwood cemetery, we’d play on the tree we affectionately knew as Moses, because of its age and size. As I grew I stopped playing in the cemetery. I looked back on those days, and marveled at the fact that I played in the cemetery, a place where I would later come to bury my uncle, and a place where I would come to assist in many graveside services. I remember those days, but deep, deep down; there is an absence, for now I longer play in cemeteries. I know that for now, I mourn in those places.
My mind often around these shorter days turns to death. Two years ago, around this time I lost a friend. I remember where I was, what I was doing when I received the call that my friend Abbey had died. I remember the gathering, the crying, and the pain. We all just wanted to rewind, to relive, and to never have to face death. We all have had experiences like these when we would give anything just for more time.
|Abbey and the gang at Band Banquet|
God in infinite wisdom sent us examples, game-changers, people who expose the love affair God has with humanity. I am reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.” For many of my friends and myself, we look back on the life that was lived when we remember Abbey Tsumas as a person who shined light on things. We remember that she has not been forgotten.
There is a creative writing professor at Appalachian by the name of Joseph Bathanti, he tells the story of his friend who was in the business of restoring icons and sacred art. In his wonderful poem Bathanti describes the brokenness of a statue that his friend was rebuilding. I would propose to you, that right now God is in the business of restoring sacred art. God is at work in the very lives of broken people like you and me. God knows the hurt we feel when we are at a loss. God is ever present, ever ready to provide comfort and peace to those in need. It may not always be evident, but it is there, in our very midst.
I challenge you this week to adopt a tradition of remembrance, maybe that’s looking through an old photo album, maybe that’s paying a visit to a family member who has lost someone close. Maybe, just maybe that’s laying a stone on the grave of a loved one. For one day, we all will be laughing at death in our resurrection, we will giggle at tombstones and share stories around the graves. We will run, we will laugh, and yes we will shout for joy when we see people like Abbey again. We once again will be playing in the cemeteries.