I thought that death existed so that we would understand more about life.
However, as I stood in the graveyard last Sunday, watching the breeze blow cherry blossoms toward the pond, I decided that it has helped me understand less.
That is, less about present life, and more about eternity.
It was not my first time in a graveyard, nor my first time at a memorial service. I went to one last year after one of my neighbors died, and years before, I also went to the funeral of a distant relative. Only four years old at the time, I still remember walking past the open casket and seeing my great uncle’s body. I touched his hand, and remember feeling the icy sensation that reminded my young spirit that he was no longer on earth.
Sunday, however, was my first time in a funeral procession or at a graveyard service. She was an older lady at our church who had been sick for the last several years, to the point where she was bedridden and could not speak. Her life had been long, her testimony sweet, her influence for God broad, and her love remembered. I am happy to know that she is dancing in heaven at this very moment (probably clad in a gown of pink, her favorite color).
Still, it made me think. The congregation was singing Amazing Grace, and I was watching the pink blossoms strip themselves of the branches and float over their heads toward the waterfall.
It was a beautiful metaphor.
Because she was like a cherry blossom, and so am I. God caused us to bloom on his tree, and as he watered us with the showers of spring and the gray storms of winter, we grew. Some days, we would look up into the sky from whatever branch we were attached to and wonder, “What is it like up there? Is it beautiful? I can hardly imagine it.” And during January, when we lay dormant and shivering, we would ask, “Is this all there is? I can’t see the blue sky anymore. There is no beauty here or there. Where is my hope now?” Other days, we would become so attached to life in the tree that we would forget that anything else existed.
But then, the wind blew at the right time, and she floated away, over the graveyard, over her loved ones, over the death and tears. She now sees the beauty of the world beyond the tree. And it is far greater, far more beautiful, and far more worth it than she ever imagined.
I know this, not because I have seen it. I, like you, are still in the tree. I know this because the One who put me here told me so. The One who planted me here with all my fellow blossoms, told me that I would not always live in the graveyard, surrounded by sorrows. He told me about the garden that I will be blown to one day–the garden that He has been cultivating since the day He planted my tree. Grand. Beautiful. Worth it.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9b