Went 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..”