Sometimes a man is brought to suffer a death on the Kansas plain, while the wind wraps around him and he must yank his hat down more firmly over his brow. Whether or not he is a reflective man, he will be forced to contemplate one or another matter as he stands next the turned-over earth, where the headstone will not be set for some days. He may suffer this death alone, a single silhouette against the setting sun, arms resting atop his shovel, a boot heel hooked over the blade.

He will come to this end and face the end of all that came before, because no matter what of his former manner of living will continue into the coming days, everything will be different, nothing will be the same, and his life will have an inescapable and essential difference from everything coming up the path to this grave. The acrid grit of mortality will flavor all his tastes, the weight of sorrow will labor every breath, the dew of his tears will wet everything on which his eyes rest.

Though he will well know that he cannot be faulted for this mortality, that he is as infected with the stuff as is the object of his downcast gaze, yet he will wrestle off his back a guilt he cannot avoid and is not his to bear. All the infinity of alternate futures and revised pasts will confront him. All the questions which call lonely through the silence seeking answers will weave in and out of his hearing. That way lies a certain madness and an impotent anger. All that could have been done, but wasn’t. All that could have been done differently, or sooner, or . . . . And its siren call will constantly beckon.

In mercy, the dirt at his feet will painfully remind him that here, this fetid plot, here is what he must confront. The death of all he has known. Nor will it rise again. Or, it will not rise in time to save him, if it rise at all. There is a mystery here of freedom and destiny that he cannot fathom.

But if he listen carefully, between the strains of the siren song and the notes of his darkened heart, he will be given to hear the voices which call him from that gravesite, to the labor and responsibilities he has been given, him and no other. If he is a man, he will shoulder this load and accept his yoke. His vision will be cleansed of the mortal dust by his tears and the freshening wind. His feet will find again ground that is firm. He will not be able to give a reckoning of all the yield of the death from which he’s come. He may yet pay a bitter and agonizing harvest. But he will find in his new destiny a quiet, and, if the divine mercy grant, a particular joy only he can know and understand.

In that there may after all be a sort of resurrection.

One thought on “Gravesite

  1. Indeed what we have begotten we must bear, even the things that have died we still carry, often as a greater burden than when alive. The ephemeral might have beens have no substance but what we give them but they can become an opaque veil that keeps us from seeing the light of resurrection. The peace of resurrection comes after we embrace death.

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