God, where is the victory over death? All I can see are gravestones worn by time that represent monuments to unquelled griefs. At this time I cannot see the victory.
One stone records the loss of a young child who died just a few days before her fifth birthday. Another serves as a constant reminder about a beloved wife who died at 26 years of age. And what is the story about the man who drowned at 36 years? His granite legacy says nothing except the date and cause; a tragedy so long ago that those who knew him or knew about him are gone too.
This particular black stone marks the place of much loved grandparents who died and shall never be known by their great-grandchildren. What was the meaning and purpose to all the years of their lives? All I can see here is only a recorded permanent parking place. God, again I ask you, where is the victory over death that we yearn for?
Lord, I have looked at every stone in this place. Who is going to remember these people? Most I never even knew to be able to remember. When my time to die comes, who shall be present to remember me? And having asked this question, why should I be remembered? When no one remains who can remember, then no one remains who must grieve and suffer this hated sorrow of separation and irretrievable loss.
Today Gisla Cemetery is quiet, as it always is. To misunderstand the meaning of rest in peace is difficult here. Yet in spite of the silence I can still hear noise. The wind is blowing through the trees; one thing the passing years have not managed to change. Restless leaves still sound the same today as when I was a child.
Changes over time and time that has gone. I now sense that I have passed the half-way point in life and I have accomplished nothing. This far into the journey and I do not even know what I should be doing with my life. No mission statement to recite and no goal that I can define. My fear is that next there shall be no dream. And what is life without a dream? Is that the same as life with no hope? I do not know, but my life does seem like travel though an unknown place without a compass and without a destination.
Lord, in the past I felt that I could talk to you about what I was thinking. Then slowly day to day problems seemed to get in the way and take up too much time. Now, there is little or no talk but the reason is not because I am listening more. Lord, You seem so distant, but I know it is I who drew away. Saying what is on my mind is not easy for me. Too often I cannot even say why my spirit is agitated because I just do not know why. Within, I feel as if a part of me is dying, just like a tree that rots away in the center. When a storm comes, the tree will eventually break because the strength will have gone, and the decay will be visible to all who can see. Lord, at times I wonder when I too shall break.
God, as I sit here in this wilderness clearing, remembering some of these people of the past, I wonder where You are in all of this. Is this period of life supposed to be a spiritual darkness and loneliness that Your people are destined to pass through alone? If so, then I hope You will see me safely through to the other end.
Your changes intruded into my life and I was not ready for them. Truthfully, I did not want my life turned upside down with change. I am powerless to undo what You have changed. Does this day herald my surrender? Am I to relinquish the past and move on? Life will continue and continue to change. I know this but dread it nonetheless. God, I ask that you grant me the strength and courage to accept the changes that I know are still to come.
Where is the victory over death?
God, today I cannot answer this question.
If life is a constant process of change, then surely death is victory over change. If, as Your word says, death is not final, then death can only be one more step in the process of change.
What other answer can there be?
At Gisla Cemetery, July 23, 1992
The Oddblock Station Agent
The Oddblock Station Agent