By Vernalee
In the late 1960’s, one of my best friends, Ida Lewis was killed in a car accident in Glen Allan, Mississippi. Her family asked me to speak at her funeral which was held in our high school auditorium. My teachers gave me the stanza of a poem to read. It was “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant.
“So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

A beautiful poem … it is! Standing at the podium, I tried to be strong, but tears filled my eyes, tremors flooded my voice, and grief consumed my soul. Yesterday was no different when death walked through the door and suddenly carried my sister Jean home. Death is an eventuality of life. It is an unescapable foe. From dust we came and to dust we will return. Death is a foreigner whose land and rivers we never want to cross; but as surely as we live, we must die. As Christians, our blessed assurance is the resurrection. Jesus told his disciples….. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know The Way, the Truth, and the Life.(John 14:1-4) Our hope is that one day when we all get to heaven that we will see our loved ones again. The raindrops of our tears will subside as we sing, “What a time when we all get to heaven, what a time, what a time, what a time. When the saints of God are gathered around the throne.”
Photo credit:
Song: “What a time” by Edwin Hawkins