“Even the icebent daffodils and crushed violets, the trampled crocuses and the battered hyacinths glittered like jewels in the muddy farmyards. Thomas caught his breath. He had never seen anything so beautiful. He passed the cemetery. The gravestones, too, twinkled in their shining gowns of ice. And the church bell began to ring.”Lori Walburg
This paragraph from The Legend of the Easter Egg, shows a glimpse of Thomas, a boy who spends the week before Resurrection Sunday at a friend’s home because his sister is very sick. While there, he grasps the beauty of new life — eternal life. He learns death is no final separator for those who belong to Christ.
Our little church in Kansas overlooked the town’s cemetery. I would play with the other children outside after Sunday and Wednesday services, the charming trees towering over the tombstones a familiar sight. I saw the flowers come and go, the beaming American flags posted on Memorial Day, and a list of fallen veterans etched in a memorial stone.
We weren’t allowed to play in the cemetery, but we still knew the shapes and some of the stories of the ornate graves, and could sense the history. It stood a constant reminder of the realness and certainty of death. There were names from the 1800s, little graves for babies, and even fresh graves of a few from our own congregation.
It didn’t really bring fear, just an impression. A respect that it was appointed for man once to die.
Once I asked my dad where he’d like to be buried one day. I personally thought under the shade of a sturdy tree would be nice. He said, “Doesn’t matter where they’ll bury me. I’ll be gone.”
I pondered this, and I agreed. I, too, would be gone, in a place better than anything conjured up on earth.
“It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.”Ecclesiastes 7:2
It is important to remember death, because in its bitter sting, we know what it is to truly live a born-again life. We know the opposite of death. We taste victory, because we were buried with Him and raised to walk in newness of life.
Over and over Scripture declares to know Him equals life, in the fullest, sweetest, deepest way.
This weekend I’m looking forward to the choir declaring life, my husband’s sermon, my new dress, cinnamon rolls, and hearing the bells ringing, “Hallelujah.” Like little Thomas in the story, I still have questions, but they are resting in the hands of a Risen Savior.
Death is a reality and certainty, but it is no master of the saints. It is the wages of sin for sinners, but it is no victor over God’s people.
He conquered death, and He defined eternal life right in John 17:3.
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
The next time you see a cemetery, be it shining in gowns of ice, stones faded from all the sun, under trees or a forest of flagpoles, remember to acknowledge death in the light of Christ’s own death, burial, resurrection.
Enjoy this poem my friend Madelyn shared with me–
“Gain after loss,
Strength after weakness,
Crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter,
Hope after fears,
Home after wandering,
Praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing,
Sun after rain,
Sight after mystery,
Peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow,
Calm after blast,
Rest after weariness,
Sweet at last.
Near after distant,
Gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness,
Life after tomb;
After long agony,
Rapture of bliss—
Right was the pathway leading to this.”