The in-laws live in a small housing development way out in the country in a small village called Fall River. So small, in fact, there are no stores near them. Lots of corn growing, however, yet no children.
Today, before our adventure began, I went out running. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much because of jet lag and the humidity and lack of sleep. But the day dawned partly cloudy and I couldn’t let it pass me by without getting out in it.
I stepped outside in the damp morning air. Everything smelled alive. It rained a bit overnight and a damp mist threatened. I turned right and ran – painfully slowly – down a short sidewalk that ended abruptly in a field of clover. I must’ve looked like a dork, but the chances of that happening when you’re out running are exponential. Running teaches you to not take yourself so seriously. I turned around and headed back.
As I passed the house, this time on my left, I found a country road to run on. No shoulder rimmed the road on either side. I ran anyway, facing traffic. I encountered a couple of cars but nothing too serious. The cars gave me a wide berth, seeing how I was obviously a tourist. I saw no other walkers or runners. It’s morning, people! I wanted to call. Get up offa that thing! It’s not raining! Who knows what could happen today?
I ran down a small hill and back up. As I crested the hill, I spotted a small cemetery on the right. I had to check it out. I’m not a morbid person who gets rubbings of old gravestones or anything. Its presence surprised me. It sat there, yellow gate shut tight, rules posted just outside the entrance. The Fall River cemetery is a small plot of land, filled with people buried over 100 years ago. Some of the earliest settlers found eternal repose there, 1896 and earlier. I stood and marveled for a moment at the history and heritage housed in that scant acreage.
Birds, flouting their ignorance of the rules, flitted in and out. A saucy cardinal flew into the cemetery and landed on a prominent granite slab labeled “Young”. I considered how we’re always just a breath away from life or death. The small red bird probably didn’t mean to be cheeky, but he had a point. A breeze rippled over the grasses and I thought about the scripture that says: For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (I Peter 1:24-25). Death and life exist, cheek by jowl, even though we’d much rather separate them.
I turned for home, thankful for the day. Life and death, beauty and mystery came together for me this morning.