Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Keeping an Eye On The Cross
I've just returned from my annual Lenten pilgrimage to Calvary Hill... It's the quaint country cemetery where my dear late husband (and father to my oldest son) lays to rest at the top of this hill. As I mentioned last year, it is deemed a pilgrimage because we travel to a sacred place. Here in this place, we care for and maintain our own family grave by gardening and visiting the cemetery...It feels good here, like a stopping place on the road to heaven. This corporal work of mercy never fails to be a cathartic Lenten almsgiving...especially that hike up the hill!
“The bodies ofthe dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the
Resurrection. The burial of the dead ...honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.” Catechism ofthe Catholic Church (#2300).
It's about a 4 hour drive from our home in the valley to this burial place by the sea. It's far enough away to feel like a journey...Especially when the human population decreases and the animal population increases as we get closer to this place of peace. The landscape makes a stark change as we cross over from city sprawl to a beautiful land of rolling hills and historic family farms.
The hills are always gorgeous green this time of year and sprinkled with dairy cows and herds of sheep...I felt this to be particularly fitting and striking for me this year. After all, I am but a lowly sheep, always eager and waiting for Christ to shepherd me.
I am forever reminded that I cannot find my way alone.
The lovely hymn, "Shepherd me O God," came to mind as I reflected upon our visit.
Isn't this baby lamb just adorable?
Shepherd me, O God,
beyond my wants,
beyond my fears,
from death into life.
I am thankful for our decision to bury Chris here instead of a crowded Veteran's cemetery that nearly held his remains.
I feel profound solitude as I walk among our neighbors here and view the sweet remembrances that their loved ones have left...
Everyone has a story...
I pray a little prayer for each soul (and their story) that has passed this way.
It feels good to till the soil, root out the weeds...
and prune the branches...
How appropriate as we work to do the same thing on our Lenten spiritual path to Easter.
Regardless of our life sufferings and challenges, I am always reminded that we must pass through Calvary...
to gain new life.
We must keep our eye on the Cross...
lest we blink and miss the Easter hope of the Resurrection.
I don't think I mentioned before that this little coastal village holds many family memories on my late husband's side. The historical church steeple, can be seen from the cemetery where weddings and baptisms made many happy memories...
and one sorrowful memorial for my late husband's brother. (My dear in-laws have tragically lost 2 sons)
In fact, our oldest son was baptized here so we always pay a visit to this beautiful church, named after St. Teresa of Avila. As the years swiftly pass, it's nostalgia at it's best!
We are homeward bound after a quick visit to the sea shore!
I won't lie and tell you that it doesn't hurt to live this story each day and make a painful pilgrimage each year...But I will say that I am better, my soul is better for this hurt. One of my favorite things that Mother Teresa said was that we must "give until it hurts. For love to be true it has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us; it hurt God to love us because He had to give. He gave His Son. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts."
Unfailingly, I drive away with hope.
Passing through fields of gold, I felt the true Shepherd return to accompany us. He gives us certainty that, together with Him, we can find our way home...Keeping an eye on the Cross!
Man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God who continues to love us to the end.
"Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself."~St. Gregory Nazianzen~