Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Graveyard

By Lucy Wall

One summer's evening in June 2013 my husband and I paid a visit to his Grandmother and Grandfather's graveside. I had never been to the graveyard before and this poem is inspired by my experience there.

Although these words address the harsh reality of death, my intention is not to bring spirits down with this poem but rather to offer hope and peace for our hearts in the face of the cold truth. My desire is to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ who faced and defeated death on our behalf and in doing so, bought us all eternal life. When we know Jesus as our Saviour we can know with absolute assurance that death is not the end, it is in fact just the beginning.

I walked one summer's evening through a gateway made of stone
And quietly I ventured down a gravel path unknown.
With warm and dappled sunshine gently peeking through the trees,
The sweetened smells of summer floated softly on the breeze.

A grassy slope of monuments rose silently ahead.
With solemn dignity they spoke of each eternal bed.
The peaceful scene lay basking in the pleasant warmth of day,
Disturbed by crunching footsteps as I carried on my way.

At the bottom of the hill I saw a sight that stole my breath
For children lay beneath these stones, too young to witness death.
The decorated, tiny graves of baby girls and boys
Had offerings of cards and gifts and lonely, unused toys.

The echo of a mother's cry was present in my ears
As death denied her of her child, replacing them with tears.
A sudden surge of sorrow overwhelmed my saddened heart
When "Born Asleep" declared their end before they saw the start.

Blinking back the tears I started walking up the hill,
With every stone and epitaph I faced more sorrow still.
For there engraved in gold I'd read a message and a name,
Each one a testimony to the family's grief and pain.

"Here lies…” "In loving memory…” "The day they fell asleep…”
The plot on which bereaved would kneel to mourn their loss and weep.
Grieving for their dearest ones who time would not give back
With flowers full of vibrant life against the marble black.

These colours stood in contrast to the sorrow of the scene
But soon they too would fade with time which no-one can redeem.
I noticed different details of each grave side that was there,
The statues and the trinkets that were placed with loving care.

A woman of just twenty one had dragonflies with wings,
They sparkled in the sunlight with her other favourite things.
Another showed a rose motif, a family's sign of duty.
Inscribed across the bottom, "You're Forever Our Sleeping Beauty."

Some of them had photographs with life behind the eyes,
An image in a frame before they'd said their last goodbyes.
A golfer's pose or clarinet engraved beside a name;
Reflections of each character and no two were the same.

Scriptures on a headstone said they'd entered Heaven's Gates,
The story of their lifetime now confined between two dates.
No plaque to tell me what they'd done or who had gained their love.
The finer details gone and only known by God above.

I saw that further on there stood the graves of olden days,
These weather beaten tablets had no flowery displays
For those who'd known their names had to their own graves been invited,
So I pictured them rejoicing in the Heavens, reunited.

As I gazed upon the graveyard staring straight at death's reality,
It served a stark reminder of my own fragile mortality.
Surrounded by memorials, the truth there to embrace;
The young and old, the rich and poor will meet death face to face.

To look upon this scene of countless headstones in a row
And see the darker side of life we were not meant to know.
The weight of our rebellion that caused all sin and death
Crushed me like a monolith and took away my breath.

For this was never meant to be, it wasn't Jesus' plan.
We should have stayed forever in the safety of His palm.
We never would have seen decay or sadness from goodbye,
We never would have had to watch a loved one slowly die.

So now we try to deal with death but we do not know how
For we should not have known the devastation we know now.
We're sentenced to a life that's filled with sorrow in our heart,
It should have had no placement but it tears our souls apart.

This nearly overwhelmed me as I stood amongst the stone
But then I thought of Jesus Christ and how He left His Throne.
He left to face this very cause and break this wicked hold;
He dealt our sin a deathly blow as prophesies foretold!

We may place religious symbols at the grave of one we've lost
But Jesus covered every base by dying on the Cross.
Our Saviour paid for every sin and every wicked deed.
To enter into glory, faith in Christ is all we need.

He swallowed death in victory! O' death where is your sting?
This knowledge gave me hope and peace that only Christ could bring.
He bought us all eternal life and banished all uncertainty
For if we're known by Christ our names are written in eternity.

I started to retrace my steps and wiped away a tear,
So grateful for our Saviour's love that leaves nothing to fear.
Once more I passed the tiny graves, those babies free from harm.
The children death denied of life now safe in Jesus' arms.

In realms that have no shadows, they're now basking in God's Son.
My sadness now combined with peace, I left them in the sun.
I realised with comfort as I walked through evening air,
One bright and golden, sunny day, dear ones, I'll meet you there.

Matthew 5:24

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

"But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."

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