There is an old graveyard on our farm here on Paradise Lane. An OLD graveyard. There may be a few graves from the early 1900s but as best as we can read- the majority of the graves are from the 1800s. No one cares for the place. The previous farmer had cows who broke over a lot of stones, and while a few brave trees guard the area, it just stands in the middle of one of our fields.
When we were girls, we were fascinated with the place. We’d spend hours trudging through the field to the site. We’d carefully unearth each stone and trace the mossy face with our fingers, trying to read what it said. We’d envision relieving the trees of their duty as watchmen, and cleared as many of the branches away as we could. We had high hopes of grooming the small area and mowing it. I think most of us- Julia especially- dreamed of being buried there. Then we’d rush back to the house with the latest collection of cockle-burrs in our hair (much to Mother’s chagrin) The place was so mystic. What was the story of the people who sleep there. Most of them died in their 20s. Did the Indians get them? (A quick reference to local history would not have Indian raids in the mid to late 1800s, but try to convince imaginative 8 and 10 year old girls of that)
Earlier this spring, I had a bit of down time in the town of Bridgewater while my van was getting new tires, so I hiked over to visit a friend. A shortcut took me through the graveyard there right off of Main Street, and I couldn’t help but read the stones as I meandered along. Wow. So much representation of dreams and goals, of accomplishments and experiences, all summed up in a word or two on the back of the stone:
- a young child “gone too soon”, I wondered what the story was here. I thought about how brokenhearted the family must’ve been to follow that small casket to the cemetery, and how long ago that was and I questioned if anyone even knows that the child existed, other than a line in the history books and one small gravestone.
- the grave of a WWI vet and I thought about what he had experienced and wondered how it affected the rest of his life.
- the couple whose stone proudly stated “Our children” and listed all six of them. I wonder if their children really did make them proud.
And I’m pretty sure that the further I went, the more clouds blocked the sunshine and the grayer the sky became. All these people, who struggled through life; dealing with different challenges, making some wise choices, and some not so wise. Did they change the world? “Gone but not Forgotten” seemed rather like a satire, really. Who remembers? So rapidly the world moves on and people who thought they were so necessary aren’t even a distant memory.
This weekend, Calvary Christian Academy put together a presentation on the life of Christian Good. Because Christian Good was my Grandma’s Great Granddad, and one of my favorite families in the whole world- had 3 children with parts in the play, I went the first night and was so challenged- I went back for the matinée. I love local history and this was a smorgasbord.
Christian Good was a young man during the Civil War and was required to serve with the Confederate Army. He had promised his widowed mother that he would never shoot at or participate in taking the life of another human. The scenes moved quickly. Christian eventually was allowed an exemption if he paid the $504 fine. Quite a number of the local Conservative men ended up serving time in prison. They faced the extreme ridicule of their neighbors,and one of the elders was actually shot by an irrate neighbor. Christian and his bride lived on Mole Hill and he fled there with their livestock while the entire Valley was ransacked and barns were burned.
I learned so much, and the students did a wonderful job at articulating emotion. How would you feel if a General interrupted your church service to demand that all men 18-45 report to duty? How could you watch soldiers come in and burn your barn to the ground? How do you graciously navigate the waters of 3 marriages and a leadership positon of the church when it split so treacherously and caused a major divide within your own house.
I can not imagine how dark some of the days were for this Great Great Great Granddad of mine, and yet, just like that, it’s a story or two in the history books and a few tales of folk lore and it’s over. All the heartache, the uncertianty, the excitement, the sunshiny days are over. And we really know very little about them.
Which brings me to me. What will people say about me when I’m gone? Will they be able to say that I kept my word and that I lived out my life valiantly? Will they say that there was no question, but that I was faithful to the end? Will they say that I made the most of every opportunity that presented itself? That I loved the life that God has given me? Will they say that I- though obviously human- did the best I could to serve my Lord all the days of my life?
And it doesn’t really matter what “they say” It doesn’t really matter if in 100 years the only thing that’s left of my legacy is a mossy stone tucked in a graveyard somewhere. What matters is, when I come to the end of the road, that I hear those words “well done, my faithful servant…”
I do hope I have a few more years- I have so much to do… Please, Lord, find me Faithful…
Mrs Killdeer built a nest on the corner of our lane. She tried so bravely to protect it. Mother and I put up a little flag to help with the efforts. It rained so hard tho, it’s a wonder she didn’t get washed away!
I love the expression on this
barrel full of monkeys wagon full of puppies. (Especially the poor guy on the right-lol) They are 5 weeks old and so much fun! If your life needs a German Shepherd, I know where you could get one 🙂