Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lay Me Down

A Haitian funeral came right to our doorstep today.  The owner of the house that we rent lost her brother.  In Haiti, you're still buried in the family grave which is almost always located right next to your house.   In our case it's just behind the back yard.  
The people from all over put on their Sunday best, which for many could be the only nice set of clothes they own.  Then they begin the procession.   
Traffic is stopped as the band leads the way down the main road of the village, and one by one the people begin to follow the casket to the grave.   As far as a quarter mile down the road, those that aren't attending will still walk out from the shade of their homes and stand at the side of the road, some to pay respects, others to just get a look.  
The band leads the way with trumpets and trombones belting out a melody, and the drummer keeps the cadence of a slow march to the final resting place.  
In most cases, the tomb is cracked open the day before, and the decomposed remains of the former resident are removed to make way for the newly deceased.  In this instance, the owner Rodney had a place just next to her mother that was already reserved and prepared.  The family is successful, and the affluence has afforded them the ability to bury their dead with honors.  This was the nicest funeral I've seen in Haiti.
With great emotion they brought the casket up the side of our house and into the wrought iron gate of the cemetery.  They heaved the casket in as the people crowded for a final view, and then the concrete cap was set in place.  The mason's job was all that remained, to pour the fresh concrete and seal the tomb.   

One can't help the reflection that stares back into our faces when the challenge of mortality is so rudely realized. 
I draw to the only conclusion I can find in the sanity of death.  All that remains, whether they lay me down or scatter me to the wind, will be the single most penetrating question of peace or anguish:  Did he know the Lord, or rather, did the Lord know him?
I pray those nods of certainty will be reverberated in the halls of Heaven, because it's only He that frames that answer, and no mortal man will speak on my behalf.   No pomp or parade will sway the judgement of my fellowship.  The only banner over me is His love, His grace, and His mercy.  I am just a jar of clay.  It Christ inside that makes any difference at all.  Isn't that what these old bodies are, just vessels?

I found with great excitement that a local group of nuns gives fresh  milk every week.  If you get there just in time, you get the milk so fresh from the cow that it's still warm.   Nothing tastes better!  They pour it right from the can into any old oil jug, and you go home happy as can be.   Nobody thinks a thing about that old oil jug.  It's just a vessel.  It serves only its purpose, to contain that precious treasure inside.   

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