All week I’ve been wanting to visit the cemetery. It seems like the perfect place to go when you’re social distancing.
And, as I’ve seen that other parts of the country are going into these mandatory shutdowns, I thought it might be good to pay my respects to some of our loved ones in Heaven in case one day soon I’m not allowed to go. I always try to visit the cemetery during Lent, and I could sense that that window might be closing.
So, I cut forsythia branches from our bushes, filled a couple bottles with water, and left my husband and boys working in our yard.
Going to the cemetery can be emotional, but it can also be very peaceful and spiritual. I think about what a fleeting time on earth this is for each of us. I remind myself that our time here is just setting the stage for an extraordinary journey that awaits us in eternity. And I like thinking about how as I am praying for the souls of those buried there, they are also praying for and with me.
I stopped first at our little nephew Georgie’s grave. I asked him to intercede especially for his mommy and daddy and five younger siblings. Talk to Jesus, I said, and ask Him to bring us not just health but also peace. It’s such a stressful time.
As I left Georgie’s grave, I knew I would have to FaceTime his mother because I couldn’t remember where the other graves on my mental list were. Treasa is a source of so much family knowledge.
Thanks to FaceTime, Treasa was able to lead me to my mother’s parents’ grave. I hung up with her, talked to my Grandma and Grandpa, said a prayer, and arranged the forsythia. I took a picture to send to my parents and headed to the last grave I wanted to visit.
Even with Treasa on FaceTime, though, I couldn’t find our friend Mrs. Smith. I walked in circles, passed bushes and trees, doubled back, and got ridiculously excited every time I saw a grave for a “Smith.” As you might expect, there are a few of those. Treasa, who had an intrigued toddler gazing up at me from her lap, kept trying to guide me, but we just couldn’t find it.
We ended up smiling and laughing our way through the whole experience.
I finally found the grave, and it felt like this huge victory. I arranged the forsythia, said a prayer, and thought of how Mrs. Smith survived polio as a girl and enjoyed a long and very fulfilling life.
When I turned to go back to my car, I realized I was parked just a few steps from the grave. I had been all over the cemetery on my search, looking in all the wrong places, but I had made my way to my destination at last. Isn’t that how life often is?
As I drove home, I thought of how I had expected going to the cemetery to be emotional. Emotions are closer to the surface in this moment with so many unknowns ahead. What I encountered instead was peace, comfort, and laughter. I connected with souls we hope are in heaven, but also with my sister and her little girl who watched me walking around and around a cemetery on a windy day.
Maybe social distancing can be a way to bring us closer to those we love and who love us—even if we are separated by time and space. And today I hope you find a reason to smile in an unexpected place.