Vacation sparked a lot of pondering. And self-evaluation. And prayer. Standing at the ocean's surf and listening to the crashing waves has that affect on a person. At least it does on me. Think me strange if you like, but we spent some time at two cemeteries while in Los Angeles. One was the famous Hollywood Cemetery where I found many Jewish individuals buried along with many celebrities of past decades. It was fascinating, especially to see those who had engraved pictures on their headstones. Suddenly those people were not just names anymore.
In a smaller cemetery north of where we stayed, we found the graves of my paternal grandparents. Broken, aging stones slightly cracked by the roots of the tree that watched over them. I was but a teen when they died, and since they lived in California, I barely knew them. But blood carries a connection that time does not erase, and it was somehow sad and comforting to find where their bodies await resurrection.
Of course, all of this reflection causes one to think of their own mortality. And the mortality of those we love. And I wonder if we truly value life each day in the moments we are given.
Amy Grant sings a song that is both poignant and sad, but carries a haunting truth. The song "Shovel in Hand" starts, "Life can change, in the blink of an eye. Don't know where and we don't know why. Forever young is a big fat lie, for the one who lives and the one who dies."
When asked about this song, Amy said, in part, "“I feel like profoundly sad songs add value to the hopeful songs. There’s nothing ‘Polyanna’ about faith and just because you’re a person of faith doesn’t mean that you don’t live with a lot of unanswered questions.”
The profoundly sad truth showed up often on the very short dates on some of the markers in those cemeteries. One young couple had been married only four years when she was taken. Many infants lived only a few days. Some died as young children or teens. In contrast, others lived nearly a century.
In the end, each of us faces the eternal...and that never-ending search for truth and meaning and saving grace from our failures...and yearns for hope from the desperate outcries of our world.
I heard of statistic the other day that says that of the Millennial generation (people ages 18-33) only 58% are absolutely certain that God exists. I understand the feeling of "how can we know for sure?" Absolute is such a strong word. And people are jaded by the hypocrisy of those who lead.
And yet, how can one look at the stars in the sky or stand at the ocean and hear its powerful roar or stand in a cemetery on the graves of those who have gone on before us and not know at a heart level that this did not just happen? With certainty, we exist. And many exited before us. How can we not then believe that we are created by One greater than ourselves? How can we deny His existence?
If a watch needs a watch-maker, surely a human body needs a human-Maker.
Everything from the natural world of ocean and earth and sky to the gardens that house our graves should lead us to think of life beyond ourselves, beyond our daily existence. God has set eternity in our hearts, but it takes a never-ending search and seeking heart to find it.