Friday, March 11, 2011

Beauty for Ashes

A cold, rainy, foggy Ash Wednesday.

With ashes still fresh on my forehead, I slowly drove down the cemetary lane and parked my car. I found the grave monument I was looking for and gently made my way through the muddy grass.

The ground was still broken in mounds, with grass just beginning to grow. A beautiful headstone stood at the front of the mounds, etched with animals and plants, a tribute to the teen boy who was such a friend of God's creation.

I stood there in the gloomy weather, praying and remembering, feeling the hushed sacredness of a cemetary. The cars passed by, the world continued on, seeming utterly oblivious to the fact that this life is so short, so uncertain.

And then I realized the meaning this moment held.

The gratitude in my heart that T. wasn't really in the grave below me. That there is more than this.

Right now I was standing in a cold and wet cemetary, on Ash Wednesday, visiting a cousin whose young death was so tragic.

But the sun rises after the rain. Easter comes after Lent. And life comes after death.

It doesn't necessarily take away the pain. But it brings hope and healing. Because we serve a God who was victorious over death and suffering by taking up a wooden cross and showing us the way.

And now at the beginning of another precious season of Lent, we join Him, the one who gives "beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3). We obey by taking up our crosses and following Him.

To life. To victory. To sun after the rain.

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