Friday, July 21, 2017
The First Place
I have always thought of country church cemeteries as holy places. Surely, the prayers from inside have spilled out the windows and doors gracing the ground with a kind of spiritual holiness. But, then there is more. Those grounds are made holy by the prayers prayed over graves, the tears of grief and sorrow which have dropped to the ground, and the loved ones left behind. Unlike the manicured and neatly trimmed memorial gardens which adorn the suburban areas, these country burial places looked real, authentic, and bear the marks of those who go again and again to pay their respects and speak of their love.
My first memory of going to such a place is from age seven. We went to the Pierce Chapel Methodist Church Cemetery to bury my father. It was land donated by our family from a couple of generations back and a place that he no doubt went by on many of his ramblings through that countryside. Back then only dirt roads gave access and only those who knew where they were going made it without an overwhelming sense of being lost. While paved roads now take folks to the church and its cemetery, the holy land has mostly escaped and been spared the pain inflicted upon ground by modernization.
At age seven my father's death took me on my first journey to that place that has become holy. I also know it as a time in my life which set me to thinking about God for the first time. While there were many things I could not figure out, the one thing which became clear in those years was that there had to be a God. Nothing made any sense apart from that one single truth. It is a truth I hung onto and one that got me started on this lifelong spiritual journey which has kept me moving toward God.