One of the first things you learn when you start hanging out with nuns, is just how important the cemetery is to them. Want to take a walk? “Let’s go to the cemetery.” Need a place to talk? “Let’s go to the cemetery.” Need get a little perspective on life? “Get thee to the cemetery.”
At first, I thought this obsession with the cemetery a little unseemly…and kind of morbid. The longer I hang out with the sisters, though–and the more trips I take to the cemetery myself–the more I find it to be an energizing trip. All those sisters…each one living a faithful life…and now at least two of them having impacted my own faith journey…I find strength and courage from visiting them. And when I remember that for all the sisters whose graves I can see, there is no more suffering, there is no more sadness, there is only complete joy in being with their God…that makes me a little happy, too.
In my mind and heart today, I plan to visit the graves of those who’ve gone before me–Granny Jett and Pa Joe…my first boss, Principal Carolyn Mayes…my Old Testament professor Page Kelley…to name only a few. People who have guided me on my life’s journey and my faith journey. People whom I have loved and who I know loved me. As I visit these residents in my own “cloud of witnesses,” I will draw strength and courage and joy. And I will offer deep and resonant Thanks!