It’s not often that I visit a cemetery. I’ve never really been the kind of person that goes there after the funeral and burial are over, because after all, the person isn’t really there. Physical remains, yes, but their spirit is enjoying the face of our Provident God. Why write about this? Because going to the cemetery was both a surprise and a graced time for me.
This past week I have been on “virtual retreat” with Dan Schutte. I’ve never done a retreat over ZOOM before. As we are all finding out, we are doing many things by ZOOM these days that we haven’t tried before. Since my usual retreat places aren’t open due to Covid, I decided to take this opportunity. Am I ever glad I did. It was surely a graced week. What Dan put together was a series of 18 reflections with his input, an inspirational video, which accompanied one of his beautiful songs and some great reflection questions for journaling. The theme was: Walking the Sacred Path. I came to learn later he actually has a book and a CD set by that title for sale.
Anyway, for some reason, (God of course) after one of Dan’s reflections on the Communion of Saints, and the song, Saints and Beloved of God, I felt drawn to visit the grave of my dearest friend who died two months ago. After placing some flowers there, talking to her and shedding many tears, I took a bit of a detour back to my car. Crossing over from her gravesite, I came upon the grave of my great grandmother! I had no idea it was even there. She died when I was very young. And beside her were my two uncles and Aunt Mildred. These were my saints and beloved of God, too.
I was reminded again of how we are all the Beloved of God. We are part of all creation as it groans to discover the joys and sorrows life brings us. The veil that separates us from our loved ones is actually very thin and they are near to us if only we are attuned to that mystery. Dan’s song says in the second verse: “ for the saints of the past and present, for the saints of our family and friends, they have found their home in Christ the Lord, whose kingdom never ends.”
God’s little nudges, when followed, often bring graces and surprises our way! In St. Ignatius’ prayer, the Suscipe, we are asked to pray: Take, Lord, receive. In Dan’s song, These Alone Are Enough the verse says: “I surrender, Lord, all I have and hold. I return to you your gifts untold. Give me nothing more than your love and grace. These alone, O God, are enough for me.” We are asked to give back to God the ones we most loved and cherished. It is an act of trust, of love, and when we do, freedom. That’s how a visit to a cemetery brings graces and surprises!
Barbara McMullen, CDP