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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Providence and Grace

When we moved here about a year ago I noticed the community walking path that had been constructed during the time I lived in California. It is a long path like most cities have nowadays, except for the fact that it dead ends into the city cemetery. I remember driving by and seeing girls in their perky neon sports bras jogging along side the tombstones. The idea of it all didn't sit well with me. In fact, the whole scene kinda skeeved me out.

A beautiful friend along the path 

 For the first four months that I used the path I would always veer South at the fork, and steer clear of the cemetery. Then one day this Spring I was walking with another mommy-friend and she suggested that we walk her normal route, which included the cemetery. As we rounded the corner, under the line of  budding trees at the far end of the cemetery, she pointed out that we were passing the graves of the babies. I looked down at my sleeping son riding along in his Jeep stroller and mentally hugged him as hard as I could. Such a juxtaposition of life and death....  The Good Lord giveth and the Good Lord taketh away.

The smallest rainbow I've ever seen

A few months later I attended a funeral of a friend's grandfather. The minister of the church wore a tie-dyed vestment around his neck, and spoke highly of the grandfather who had devoted his existence to the church in his last few years on Earth. The minister went on to talk about how on Earth we get so caught up into our relationships with our friends, family, and coworkers that we sometimes forget why we are really here. People pour so much time and effort into creating a legacy for themselves, attempting to etch their existence permanently into the face of mankind. And for what?  Then he said, "If you don't believe me that someday we will all be forgotten, then go to the oldest part of the cemetery. There is no one visiting. No one remembers any of those souls." The point of his sermon was that we should devote our life to creating a relationship with Jesus. We are all going to die. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is the relationship that we have created with that one single man.



As Summer begins to melt into something that slightly resembles Fall I find myself walking on the path often. Walking is very meditative to me. In high school I remember my history teacher asking me about a sculpture I had made. He said that he had read somewhere that some artists can see the final sculpture in a lump of clay before they even begin. All they have to do is "let the sculpture out" of the clay. I have had that experience from time-to-time with both my paintings and my written word. Some days it feels like the longer I walk on the path the clearer these images become in my mind. If I can just walk fast enough and keep my endurance up, I will return home to simply let my creations out onto paper or canvas. Other days, each word or brushstroke is a struggle. 


I've now learned that walking and meditating in a cemetery can be a very soul-nourishing thing. Almost like a prayer within my entire body. Last week I took my time and ended up coming across my old music teacher  from grade school's grave. We always thought his name was pronounced Mr.Banjo-hands. It wasn't. It made me smile to think of all the gifts he gave to me in my love for music. As I continued walking I could hear the clinking of metal. It turned out to be a necklace dangling on the grave of my childhood next door neighbor. He was a Senior in high school when he died of a brain tumor. He proposed to his girlfriend before it was too late.  I never had the chance to say goodbye. He was the only person (besides my siblings) who has ever punched me square in the face in my life. It was a fight involving a tennis ball and my pride. His BMX bicycle seat still rests on his grave five years after his death. 



John, you were too smart for your own good.  : )  
Rest in peace. 

Today I meandered into the oldest section of the cemetery. I had been attempting to talk on the phone with my best friend, but the connection kept dropping out. Something was telling me to just be silent, enjoy the walk, think, clear my mind, focus, take it all in. Then, Dustin Kensure's song Consider the Ravens came up on my ipod just as a huge gust of wind wrapped itself around me. 

I've got bills to pay
Taxman on my tail
Just keep prayin' that
the check's in the mail

There are times it seems
when everything's lost
and I'm moaning, I'm tossed
and I see..

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way

I've grown sick and tired
of trying to stand still
I've learned to let the wind
pull me where it will


Throw myself into
the will of the wait
I can never be great
'til we're free

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way

Although I'm walking through
the valley of the shadow of death

evils all around
It's coming from the right and the left

Trust that I will see
the glory above
Oh, your banner of love
flies over me

between the river and the ravens I'm fed
between oblivion and the blazes I'm led
So father give me faith, providence and grace
Between the river and ravens I'm fed
Sweet deliver, oh you lift up my head
and lead me in your way 


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