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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ending well and other cemetery musings




Endings.

I hate them.

Well, not always. Sometimes, like a visit to the dentist, they are a mercy.

But other times, not.

Other times they put a period where you only want a comma.

Take this book I am reading for example...Soul Gardening, Cultivating the Good Life.

From the moment we met, in a used bookstore in Charlotte, I knew we would be the best of friends.

For over a month now I have carefully doled out the pages to make it last as long as possible. Every morning it became an act of my will to put it down when I longed to read on.

I knew someday our relationship would have to end. It was inevitable. Yes, I could make it last longer by limiting my reading to sentences, and then words. But that is no way to end a glorious read.

Laugh if you must, but I had tears in my eyes this morning as I drew it to me one last time. I was about to say goodbye to a friend who had brought me joy and insight and laughter.

Endings.

Whether it's a good book or movie, friendship or life. They hurt.

Recently we vacationed on Hilton Head Island. We've been doing it for years, along with our children and now their children. A glorious week of family, fun, and memory making.

In the midst of all the festivities, I always make time to bike to a favorite spot of mine...


A cemetery.

This year, I took along my camera in an attempt to photograph what has been, up until now, only seen in my soul.

It is a lonely place. In all the years I have been there, I have never seen another person.

It sits at a busy intersection where people are hurrying by...on their way to work..or the mall...or the beach...or their favorite dockside restaurant. Somewhere, but not here.

Surrounding it are stately oaks, draped in cascades of blue-gray moss. Like soldiers, they guard the graves of those who once dreamed and loved, who were once alive with the gift of life.

There's a hush here that is found nowhere else on the island...a heavy silence that speaks volumes.

And this is what I hear...every year...time after time...

All things must end.

Books. Vacations. Lives.

I don't like it, but I need to be reminded of this.

So the life I live now is lived in light of eternity...

And not the next problem, pain, or purchase.

I have seen these graves a dozen times, and yet I still stop and read each one...

The three small ones in a row, all with the same last name and the word "Infant".



The tall, stately obelisk that extols the Godly character and integrity of a beloved father and husband.

The tilted and faded ones from the Revolutionary War that tell of the cost paid by a beloved's loyalty to his country.



All these and so many more set my mind aright...

Reminding me that someday I, too, will have an end.

Asking me, "How will you be remembered?"

Because the choices I make now...the words I speak now...what I give my time and energy and encouragement to now, will be what I am remembered for.

Maybe I should write my obituary...now...with what I want it to say.

And then make sure I live my life in a way that guarantees those words are true.

I could spend hours in this place, but I have to pull myself away to return to those that I love passionately.

To a life He has given me, full of promise and hope and opportunity.

The cemetery has done its work again,

Reminding me that as long as I have breath, my story is still being written...

That I can still make choices.

And my choice, by the grace of God, will be to end well.