Again last Wednesday friends and I rendezvoused in a special little community. Traveling back roads through a very rural portion of South Carolina, we witnessed the continued demise of a way of life as we were confronted by a countryside surrendering to the ravages of depopulation and kudzu vines . . . that is until we reached the place many have chosen to call home.
It exists like an oasis of peace in the midst of a chaotic world, a harbinger of hope in the face of mounting despair, a reminder of what was and will be, and a testament to family bonds. In it prayer and patriotism are embraced as normative, forgiveness is more than wishful thinking, and respect is accorded young and old alike. So unique is the prevailing bond of Godly fellowship that folks are returning to become permanent residents at an ever-increasing rate.
Walking beneath the majestic oaks, towering hickories and willowy pines forming the canopy for Mayesville Black River Cemetery and toward the familiar faces gathering around a flower-adorned box containing the ashes of a dear friend, I scanned the tombstones for familiar names . . . there were many. Many, too, were the tears being shed by the children and grandchildren of the lady I would
momentarily be eulogizing and burying beside her husband.
My opening prayer was a simple one: "Come, Holy Spirit. Honor us with your presence as we honor one who honored You with her presence among us." The reflections I shared concluded with a call for self-examination followed by my speaking (to harp accompaniment) the Gospel promise voiced in Chris Tomlin's hymn "I Will Rise" - it served to put the ensuing words of committal, "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," into a proper Christian context.
Much like our dear friend's sixty-nine years, "in the twinkling of an eye" the service was over. But our brief reunion in this special place had challenged us to take stock of our lives - to look back, to look around, to look ahead - and to ponder both the final disposition of our souls and bodies. As the cool evening air began to descend upon the setting, our goodbyes were interspersed with weeping and hugging and assurances that we would meet again, if not in this special place, in one far more special . . . "where there is no death, neither sorrow nor crying, but the fullness of joy with all thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Savior." May it be so, Lord; may it be so!
In His power and for His glory,