The Spirit that is Holy spoke to me on a run this week. It spoke through yellows and oranges and reds. It spoke through last names I recognized, written on stones firmly planted. I wondered as I ran by, “I might know of your descendants. Just in case you were wondering, your great grandson is a successful photographer and lives on the west coast…just in case you were wondering, your granddaughter lost a baby a few years ago and today she is laughing again..” It spoke to me through words and visions in my own head. It spoke to me through the first stone I saw: She had been a beloved wife and a mother. She died one year older than I am right now. I wonder what she cooked for dinner the last night she was alive. I wonder if she had remembered to switch “the lights” from the washer to the dryer or if she kissed her husband before she fell asleep. It spoke to me through a man dressed in a suit and tie, ready for the work day yet hovering his body over a place in the ground, still. I think she went before him and I think he was not expecting that. His posture spoke, saying he was not expecting that. Don’t worry. . even when we are expecting it, it’s never easier. We still hover and weep and touch the cold stone with the name on it. As he stood there, the oranges and yellows showered his Toyota corolla.The man in the suit came alone and he would leave alone.
One of my favorite writers of the past few years, ND Wilson, says that he sees a farm land when he walks through a cemetery. I agree with him. Something in the deepest parts of me speaks and says these seeds planted dry and deep will burst out of the ground like surprise shoots after a long winter.
So I went for a jog through the fields where my “Last Will and Testament” says I am to be planted. A beautiful three year old girl I know is already planted deep in the dirt there. “she sure was a little sweetie” my ten year old recently said when remembering her out of nowhere.. “but God had other plans for her..” You are wise, Micah. I wonder what his plans are for me. When the life is gone from my bones and I am nothing but a seed, those who are left to survive me will put me in that same soil with all of those names and stories that are now told. And there will be a new stone that says “PARSONS” on it and those who love me will have fewer words than you can fit on a twitter update to tell generations to come what kind of woman I was, what kind of story I lived.
Today we would have been celebrating my dad’s birthday. “I would have been out shopping today getting his gift and getting ready for the big dinner..” my mom said to me on the phone earlier this week. Jeremy and the boys and I drove out to the cemetery where he is buried this morning, through rows and rows of soybeans and dried up harvested cornstalks to reach the farm where his seed sits, waiting for the resurrection. As we pulled up zion, who is three and is still learning to put words together to communicate his thoughts said, “papa…papa’s sleeping?..” .
Sometimes it feels like he fell asleep just last week but it’s already been four and a half years. And those years are going by furiously and fast like smoke right in front of our faces. Don’t even try to grab at it, you’ll just look crazy.
I jogged past the patches of grass that have yet to receive a stone in them. That ground has not yet been tilled but someday it will be, for me. Why is it we try so hard to breeze through life unconnected to the reality that we are all going to the same place? Why is it we hold our iPhones until they are hot in our hands and we pay the bills and we grind our coffee beans and we tell the kids to “stop hitting your brother!” and we open up another pack of american spirits and we push one another away over small and large grievances with no birds-eye view? I don’t know what my stone will say yet. I have no clue what yours will. But there, in tightly packed, perfect rows, lies what is physically left of my father. “home with Jesus. hope fulfilled.” The Spirit that is Holy reminded me of that this week. He reminded me of my fragility, my seed-ness, my soon-to-be field. He reminded me that two months ago today, he began something brand new in us for a reason. We are on a journey, my friends, and I hope and pray it is one we can share more and more of on this sweet little safe space that is our family blog. But for today, I will just say that the past four and a half years and the past two months, in particular, have reminded us that we are all seeds in the hand of the Farmer. He knows our fate and He is carefully planning out the fields and the harvest.
and today, we live!
“you. like living stones. are being built into a spiritual house.”
- 1 Peter 2:5