Life is utterly strange – and short. Over my dead body shall some day rest a stone. I found myself tarrying around in a graveyard yesterday. Around me a thousand dead bodies. I couldn’t see the bodies, and I smelled no sent of death. What met my eyes, rather, was nice carved stones with beautiful flowers surrounding. I can’t stop reflecting on the irony of how the garden of death can produce such nice flourishing flower beds. My grandpa was buried here some 7 years ago, and as I walk around to locate the stone that keeps him under the earth, I take notice of the many sayings and words written on the tomb stones.
I guess, if you want to extract one sentence to summarize a person’s life, it be the one written over his tomb. Save those 50 percent going “Rest in peace”, “Thanks for everything”, “Remembering you with joy” or the like of typical words. Saying the same as all the others, your words loose information. It is that which stands out from the rest that conveys meaning. The essence of information must be its deviation from triviality. I passed a woman’s tomb with a simple
and went humm… Strange how you can take away a couple of words, and all of a sudden what you are left with says more than what you started from. To me it spoke of a husband truly grateful to his dearly loved wife now gone. She had been of great value to him. Perhaps she helped him a lot. Of the loving and serving kind, maybe. Overbearing and magnanimous, I imagine, always valuing his life over her own. Who knows what gratitude was spelled in that one word? A truly great word to put on a tomb.
I pass a tomb with a long story of small bear resting in big bear’s arms. Interesting but indeed strange to put on a tomb stone. It probably says a lot about the departed — or the remaining family. More likely it conveys information about both parties. On I wander and wonder. The treasures hidden in the graveyards are the kinds you have to dig deep for. They are like pearls enclosed in oysters. You have to take the work to look for them, and when you find one, you have to realize its value. Ah — another book spelled out in one sentence:
Nobody knows the day before the sun has set.
Choice words from a non-believer, I take it. Sad words. A screaming voice of hope that something is awaiting yonder. A voice that isn’t on terms with the divine or the heavenly realms. A shout for justice; a prayer hoping for good times for a struggling, good soul now gone. Must have been a good funeral. Utterly sad though. He is lost into the big void of nothing. Oh — I walk on.
Talking of nothing; here’s a grave with no inscription. Wow; the subtlety of nothing. How it shouts against me. How it screams everything but “nothing”. As if it wasn’t already weird enough, the grave is set in order! Flowers and nice stone tiles surrounding it. How odd. What can the meaning of this be? A mindful soul left behind in speechless grief. Where words seemed futile. Or perhaps the deceased was a man of facts? A man relented with the terms dictated by every life’s eventual fate? Confused I walk on. I pass a “Where roses never die” — save graveyards? — and finally reach my destination;
All by grace.
So true. I think nobody would give him the testimony of being an easy person, or that of a person having led a perfect life. As humans we tend to forget the good sides of a person as he or she is around, and then, when the person is wiped off the surface we are otherwise bound to, we praise him or her far beyond that of truth. But I think the words my grandma chose for grandpas tomb were perfect.They reflect how he would approach strangers: Without judging and with grace. The result of having had to learn the hard way himself. Harsh upbringing. No recognition despite of his great many talents. All by grace. The words reflect what as a result of his background inevitably was needed in his own life; grace. Those words were perfect — and beautiful! They tell the story of a believer. There is hope. They pass the knowledge of judgment and righteousness. Of eternal salvation for every repenting sinner. Truly wonderful.
As I walked off, it struck me that there was one tomb I still hadn’t seen. That one tomb I will spend more time by than any other tomb, but yet never will see — save from beneath. My own tomb. What story will it tell? I might not be the one choosing the words, but I can dictate the terms. I am 26 years of age, and I can barely imagine that I some day will join the resting party of the dead. But I will. What story will then be carved in stone above me?
Now is the time to tell.