When I was the minister at Pontypool and Bethany United Churches, each summer I conducted “Decoration Day” services at the local cemeteries. Local and returning families gathered at the cemetery to “pay their respects” at the graves of their loved ones. During the week prior, or that Sunday, they would plant or bring flowers to decorate the graves. These services gave people an opportunity to remember and tell the stories of the lives of their loved ones, to hear again the assurance of faith in another life to come, and to reconnect with other families from their past.
At our Decoration Day services, visitors wandered among the headstones, retelling and reliving their stories bringing tears of joy, sadness and hurt, and most of all, I hoped, wisdom.
As I write this, I’m wondering what kinds of memories I will leave behind? I don’t foresee being remembered in a cemetery, because my hope is to be cremated and my ashes used as fertilizer for a tree. In this transient society, I do not expect my loved ones always to live close to that tree. When they see trees of every shape and size, my wish is that they will be reminded of my life. I hope their stories will help them remember my desire to bring peace, comfort and new life to others through my writing and my living. I hope I still have a lot of years left to create and live those stories for them.
As we step into September, we take the risk of children returning to school, gathering together with and without masks. What stories are you living now for your loved ones? What wisdom will they remember? I caution you to keep focused on the stories you are creating now in this moment, that matter, not next by week or next year.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:1-2).
Today’s Faith by Rev. Janet Stobie