Thoughts at a Graveside

Stood beside the casket of Jessica’s grandfather today. As far as I know he had no faith in Christ. Ironic, though, because so many people came out and wished beyond all hope that we’d see him again someday. The common sentiment seemed to be, we want it bad enough, therefore it must be true. It’s no wonder the atheist laughs; I guess it’s something akin to abracadabra… I have no answers, so in my grief I hold tight to my imagined hope. Most everyone standing around listening to the pastor will doubtless think very little of God after this pow-wow of immortal musings.

I think of the well-meaning firemen, tear-brimmed eyes, invoking the name of a God they wouldn’t recognize if He came down to earth and died on a cross for them. Then the masons gathered, white aprons around the waist, to read prayers from a booklet. A white apron was laid on the coffin to signify the purity of a righteous life. No spots? There would have been spots on mine. Then a sprig of acacia was placed to signify eternal life.

I think I was sobered by the fact that so many people carry faith like they carry tissues–it’s good for wiping up runny noses. Give me a good day, though, and I’m outside running around, throwing a few back with friends, laughing about nothing while the tissue box sits at home, waiting patiently for sickness and death to make the nose run. Sure, you can wipe your nose on your sleeve, but decorum bids us use the tissue. How like modern faith! Dust off the Bible for a funeral, pass around the Gospel of John when the wife leaves, lift voices in prayer after a school shooting. You blow your nose when it runs, you take asprin for a headache, you order french fries when you’re hungry and you call on God’s name when you’re faced with something you can’t handle or understand.

During the committal, I leaned over and commented to Mat: “You never see an atheist at a funeral.” Maybe they are there, just frightened to come out, scared at the implication of their disbelief. Isn’t there an atheist minister who should be bidding his nonbelievers to pass along the message they offer? Do they scatter to their holes like cockroaches at the sound of death? This is not the time for grinding axes, they argue. What better time to reconcile the foolishness of belief than here at the brink; don’t let the disillusioned wife and children be lied to!

I suspect that most everyone that stands at a graveside is at least imagining an afterlife. Take a flower, sniff it, imagine heaven and picture yourself there–the simplest salvation available. And what American does not want a simple afterlife to correspond to their already simple life on earth?

As I drove away from the graveside, I couldn’t help but imagine all the people who, after witnessing today’s funeral, will simple resume their nominal lives and move ever closer towards theirs, aimless, godless and hopeful of vanity.