As I sit on the brown, lifeless grass, its crispy blades crunch and break beneath my weight. High atop Vesper Hill I can see for miles in every direction, the surrounding gently rolling hills the same dun color as the grass where I sit. Dotted along the tan hillsides, dark green cedars raise their pointed heads skyward. The peaked ends of two white farm houses reveal man’s presence in this pristine world.
The breeze blows through the three-foot-high dried Bluestem grasses, bending and rustling them along its way. The cloudless sky stretches bright blue in every direction, a treat for eyes more accustomed to the gray, overcast skies of winter.
This peaceful setting soothes my harried soul. My heart slows from the frantic pace of the past week, its rhythm now more in tune with the occasional bird call and the soft rustling of the grass. It’s appropriate, somehow. Just four days ago we buried my father-in-law. Yes, he was old and had lived a long, good life. But it’s still hard to say goodbye. And the caring, for years, the waiting for death to release his body has been difficult. All the busy week of funeral plans and a house full of company have left my body tired, drained. Physically and emotionally drained.
The rustling grasses draw my focus back to where I sit. Right in front of me, so close I can reach out and touch its branches, sits a leafless plum bush. At first glance it seems lifeless. Looking closer, however, I notice red in the branches, and small buds growing all along its notches. New life and growth will soon unfurl on this bush.
I examine my own life’s winter. Frequently leafless and bare this past winter, I spent much joy-sapping energy watching my father-in-law’s health slowly decline until finally, after 91 years on this earth, he breathed his last. With a flurry of activity my family and I planned the funeral, prepared for guests, and buried Dad, high on a wind-swept hill much like this one.
But I know the life cycle continues. The plum bush will sprout new leaves and bear fruit, my body and soul will find rest and rejuvenation, and Dad, freed from his feeble earthly body, will live a glorious new life in heaven. The peaceful scene in front of me is appropriate for this difficult time in life. Finally, after a long winter of life, my father-in-law has passed to the spring of his new life.
It’s early march—Spring has not yet displayed her green finery or her bright splashes of flowering beauty. But Spring has sprung early this year for the beloved father recently buried. I look to the distant horizon, beyond the dried grass-covered hills, where the cars scurry, speeding off to some unknown destination and I’m grateful I know my father-in-law’s final destination. The cars hurry. I sit, enjoying the quiet, enjoying the solitude. I am at peace.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”