Today was quite a day. We were supposed to be heading to Eureka for a track meet. They did have it. The weather was excellent except for the super high winds. I was in Eureka, but for other reasons. I had a funeral. It was for a 94-year-old wonderful lady. She was doing fine up until not so very long ago, like perhaps a couple of months. Because of the HIPA regulations, which I totally understand, the hospital people are not allowed to give me information about when people are in the hospital unless they request that I come. It is a good rule, but as a Pastor, it is a somewhat frustrating rule. I am not a pushy person, all family members stop laughing, especially if I am not that familiar with someone, so I don’t just randomly walk through the hospital checking who is sick, and they really don’t want you to. Anyway, yesterday was her family service and today was the more public funeral.
I am always moved by how families interact, act and handle these things. I suppose it is from being part of a family that was attending a funeral nearly every six month there for a time. My mother said she could almost price the caskets already. Not a skill you really want to have. Today I shared the day with two other Pastors. One was at my church just before me, and the other is a former member of our church and she is now a Pastor in a nearby town. It was good, and having them do a few other things took some of the burden off. I was able to sit for a bit, and relax the feet that were starting to hurt in those heels that I bought for such occasions.
What hit me today was the peaceful air about the cemetery. It is out in the country. In that corner of the county it is flat, surrounded by gravel roads and fields and pastures and wide open. If the wind wouldn’t have been blowing so badly we would have heard the birds singing their own version of the hymns. It was beautiful.
I was moved by the way the family sat and watched as the casket lowered into the ground. I didn’t watch that for either of my parents. In the case of my mother, we would probably have frozen to death, it was so cold that day. At the time my father passed away, it was not a custom to watch. Today, I noted the expert way the men moved the belts and the cranks and adjusted this and that, and the handle of the crank on the corner just kept spinning and spinning.
After the casket was lowered, everyone just seemed to freeze in time. No one wanted to be the first to move. I finally took a page from the funerals of my husband’s family. They are descended of immigrants from Holland, and they always spend so much time in fellowship at the cemetery. I went to each of the children and shock their hands with and offer of God’s blessing on them. I think it will be a tradition for me from now on.
After the time back at the church was over, the meal finished and the workers busy cleaning up, I popped into the back room of the office and changed into assistant track coach clothing. I felt like Super Man in a phone booth. Oddly, a few nights ago I was dreaming about Super Man and trying to understand why people can’t tell him apart from Clark Kent. For some reason Jaxon was in my dream, and he couldn’t understand that either. I ducked out the back door and headed to Linton to practice.
As I drove, I noticed how the wind was churning up the lakes. Below are a couple of pictures. The first one literally looked yellow from the van. The bottom of that lake is all alkali and when it dries up it is as white as snow. In fact it sort of looks like a bed of powdered sugar.
The next picture is Rice Lake south of Strasburg, ND. It looked green today. I imagine it was not a reflection of the sky as much as something being dug out of the bottom because of the wind. The cloud in this picture is the smoke of a distant fire. I didn’t intend to quote the song, but it did work out that way. The fire whistle went off in Linton, but the trucks either didn’t go out or came right back when they realized just how far west of town it was. The fire was on the other side of the Missouri River. The only bridges are in Mobridge and Bismarck, so no trucks going there from the east side.
During practice, I joked that I was tanning. I soon covered my legs. The wind was so strong that it pelted the sand on the street all over my legs and even threw it in my face. We got back to the shelter of the track rather quickly. Hope it is just as warm tomorrow without all that crazy wind. Of course it might blow up a rain storm. We sure could use the moisture.