Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gisla Cemetery, Milan, Quebec

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

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Key to another Door

Most of our family’s history has been irretrievably lost. The reason is perhaps nothing more than this one particular aspect of life that is meant to be. True, some stories should never be revealed but others shall only remain for us as distant vague mysteries that we may recall once having heard or overheard about decades earlier.

Those unique stories about our family members of earlier generations have been taken to the grave by those who are no longer with us; personal stories about their lives, tales of past events that shaped their character, timeless lessons about what they believed in and insight into how they lived that can longer be shared with those of us who are following. 

The Bible correctly reminds us, 

“There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to happen among those who come after.”
Ecclesiastes 1:11

These words from the Bible are so very true. I only have to look through the boxes of old photographs in my father’s home, many taken years before 1924, (the year my father was born) to be confronted by this Biblical truth. Who were those people in some of the photographs? All who knew them are gone. What were they doing when those moments from their lives were recorded? No one is left to remember. What stories could they share with us if they were here to tell us? Only God knows now.

In looking back over the decades of time that I have been granted to live though, the 1970’s were by far the most difficult years. Nonetheless, the 1970’s were also the most formative years; a preparation leading up to January 1980, when my life completely changed. A few of the chapters that have been recorded come from some of those events in the 1970’s. Where necessary, names, events and locations have been changed.

When I and my generation are gone, no one shall remain to remember. If there is one thought to pass on, then it is this; learn how to discern the difference between giving up too easily too soon and the futility of fighting against the will of God.

If you wish to read more, then this is the key to that doorway: