I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a little country churchyard, than in the tombs of the Capulets.
So much of my life ends up in the posts of this blog that I didn’t feel I could continue writing about anything until I wrote about yesterday’s funeral; and, I just couldn’t do that yesterday. I postponed my scheduled posts and left things a bit silent.
I added the signage (left) as a reminder. "You are here" can be read in multiple ways. I am in the location; I am still here. And because of this, I need to be present.
It was an incredibly hard day mostly because I literally ended up watching my friend grieving. The funeral was standing room only by the time the service began. I was seated adjacent to the sanctuary in the nursery. I was unable to see the pulpit. All I could see if I leaned to my right and looked out the door was my friend and his family. For the most part, I was staring at a bookshelf. Jokingly I said later that I figured that was where they put the Catholics; but in the nursery, there was actually a book about Catholicism. Because of that and a few other tidbits that I picked up, this wasn’t the average Baptist church of the South.
Carmel Baptist Church was established in 1773. That makes for a pretty old church around here. The first thing that I noticed was the historical marker which greeted visitors right at the entrance. Entitled “Grant’s Operations”, well, you can read the signage below.
The church is off of Historic Route 1 so historical signs especially those relating to the American Civil War are quite common. The church had a more detailed marker closer to the graveyard. Here I learned that during the Lee vs. Grant 1864 Campaign, this church was the place where Union soldiers reunited on May 23, 1864 before attacking General Robert E. Lee across the North Anna River where for four days, 3,400 Americans died on both sides of the war. U.S. Grant and George Meade made this church their headquarters.
I point this out because in the South, it’s hard to get away from the past. Here walked historical figures good and bad. This was a location of serious considerations of bloodshed all based on what each side believed to be right and, dare I say, Godly.
But this place holds more personal history for the family. This was where my friend’s mom was baptized and where she attended church the majority of her life. Each sidewalk that we walked upon had already been walked on by her. Each area of land including the graveyard had already been tread upon prior by this woman. This was a place she knew well. This was a place she loved. To have a place with this much personal history, well, that’s something in itself.
The beautiful words that were shared and the images from that day will not be forgotten especially by her family. She was even escorted in via casket coach with a driver and a stunning black horse. Traditional and timeless…yet also unique by today’s standards. All of this is a lasting memory of a day that is only eclipsed by the memory of her life and her strong presence.
Even I am not tacky enough to take pictures during a funeral and I’m certainly not here to transcribe moments that were shared. The day was sad. Hell, I didn’t even eat the deviled eggs at the reception so anyone who knows me realizes that something wasn’t right.
On my way home from work today, I opted for Route 1 and stopped by the church. After a prayer and a few quick pictures, I was back in my car on my way home.
At the reception, I overheard one of her friends say that she was like a ray of sunshine. Today’s photos are quite similar in weather to yesterday. It was rainy and dreary, a metaphor for this ray of sunshine being removed too soon.