Lesson from the Cemetery
Most old churches have ancient cemeteries near the church property. While the church is a living example of present life and community, the cemetery serves as a reminder of the history of the church and it’s members.
Not all history is good.
As an example of this history, this particular cemetery also has a segregated portion of the cemetery dedicated for the burial of slaves. A sad reminder of the life of slaves in the Southern United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even in death, there was a separation of human beings from each other based on Skin Color.
Unless you were in the Free State of Jones…
Lesson Engraved on a Tombstone
Back to the cemetery just outside of Providence Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, founded in 1767, that one tombstone caught my attention. It read:
“Remember friend – as you pass by
It was a great reminder to me of the brevity of life. How each day is an absolute gift and we must cherish it. We must use our skills to make the world a better place. Death is the great equalizer, whether slave or free, rich or poor, it comes for us all and there is no escaping it.
Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a multi-day holiday from October 31st to November 2nd. It is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Prayers and remembrance are shared on behalf of friends and family members who have died.
Although it may sound morbid to those that aren’t used to celebrating the holiday, it truly is a way to remember family and friends. Children and Infants are remembered on November 1st, and adults are remembered on November 2nd.
“People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. ” (Source: Wikipedia)
When Breath becomes Air
I have been listening to a book entitled, “ WhenBreathBecomesAir “. The author, Paul Kalanithi, is a neurosurgeon and he shares his reflections on his life and his battle with cancer. The book has an amazing power to it: words transfigured by one with the sober realization of the limit to his days here on earth.
His early studies in literature and philosophy influence his medical description of his disease and symptoms, and sharing the metaphysical meaning of life.
Questions he explores in his book include:
- What makes life worth living in the face of death?
- What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present?
My Friend, David the Encourager
Last summer a good friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. He was in the prime of his life at age 53. He influenced others with positive words and encouragement. And, like an ancient tree falling before its time due to windswept and soaked grounds, it lays before us to see how deep their roots have gone. Although I wasn’t David’s best friend, he made everyone feel like his best friend and I remember fondly the times I spent with him.
David had taken a leave of absence from the corporate world and fulfilled a dream of his to captain sailboat excursions in the Caribbean. David and his wife Janice enjoyed sharing their love of the ocean with their passengers. David was passionate about life and enjoyed other outdoor pursuits as well including golfing, biking, snow skiing, and hiking.
When you talked to David he always made you feel so valued as a person. At his memorial service, people talked about when David talked to you it was if you were the only person in the room, often spending hours engaged in delightful conversation with you. Each and every day he challenged himself to learn something new or share that something new with others.
I played many rounds of golf with David, and he was the type of guy that would celebrate your good shots with you as if he had hit the good shot himself. He would even recount to others your amazing shot with the wordsmithing of a good sports news reporter.
I remember on one occasion he shared with delight all 18 holes of his friend Rod’s great round scoring a 74. That was just David – he loved and delighted in the accomplishment of others. As a gift from Rod (who was also a skiing buddy with David), he composed an original song which he sang at David’s funeral, expressing his brotherly love for David.
“Remember friend – as you pass by
As you are now, so was I.
As I am now, soon you may be.
Prepare for death and follow me.”
I frequently think of David as I ponder what today will bring. Will I be obsessed with my own problems and be discouraged? Or will I look for opportunities to help others? Will I wallow in fear and isolate myself? Or will I get out and interact positively with others?
Thank you, David, for your example!
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