Consolation at the Cemetery

Father Michael's graveWent to vis­it Father Michael’s grave today. I last saw it the day after he was buried, when its sur­face was plain old dirt.  That time, I prayed for all of us (so many !) who need­ed con­so­la­tion.  I remem­ber think­ing that maybe Father Michael would ‘leave’ me some­thing, some lit­tle token. I’d often told him I would so cher­ish some­thing he had writ­ten, like an essay, or the out­line of a homi­ly or even some per­son­al reflec­tion. Well, that’s what I would have want­ed. I was think­ing  about that as I stared at the dusty earth that day and the wind start­ed to pick up. Suddenly,on the grave, I saw this dry brown leaf stand up and dance on its stem- lift­ed by the wind.  What do you know.…It was a maple leaf- emblem of Cana­da, the home­land of my dear friend. Well, that’s appro­pri­ate, I thought and I picked it up as a remem­brance of Father M. I keep it pressed in the pages of my Bible .

So today, I talked to a friend after Mass. She relayed that close friends of Father Michael  were vis­it­ing the ceme­tery each Sat­ur­day. I felt sad that I had not gone for a while. It was rainy and seemed like a good day to go to a ceme­tery, so I decid­ed to dri­ve over. Well, there is no mark­er yet, but Father Michael’s grave is a stand­out. The grave is sod­ded and so green right now. There is a lit­tle peachy rose­bush plant­ed near the top and two mini ros­es, pink and yel­low, are at the foot of the grave. All are bloom­ing quite nice­ly. There is a white cross and red dec­o­ra­tive  flower where the mark­er soon will rest. Some­one placed a rock with a mes­sage near the cross; it states ‘always in our hearts’. Above the grave, actu­al­ly plant­ed at  the foot of anoth­er Domini­can friar’s plot, is an arrange­ment of annu­al flow­ers. I took a pic­ture with my cell phone.

It cheered me to see this bright spot in the ceme­tery and to know that Father Michael’s body, the for­mer tem­ple of his spir­it, rests beneath it. Cer­tain­ly there are oth­er bright spots around, dec­o­ra­tions and flow­ers here and there- but this was the bright­est of all. Again, most appro­pri­ate for some­one whose light was nev­er, ever under a bushel! I hope the rose bush­es make it, though I think that would be a mir­a­cle. Ceme­tery pol­i­cy for­bids plant­i­ngs except near large fam­i­ly plot mark­ers. I’m afraid every­thing will even­tu­al­ly be mowed over and yanked out ‘per the rules’. But I hope some­how this lit­tle spot can be over­looked for a bit, just so we , still need­ing con­so­la­tion, can savor it. See­ing the flow­ers actu­al­ly grow­ing from that spot makes me think of all the good seeds Father Michael plant­ed and nour­ished in his holy life.

My life flows on in end­less song, above Earth’s lamen­ta­tion..”

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