We were fortunate on the day of Joan’s burial to have weather more balmy than blistering, not like June 17th of this last year when we laid WB’s remains to rest.
The service started promptly at 11 and the Reverend preached for a good 30 minutes from diverse texts including the 23rd Psalm and 1st Corinthians among several others. The subject was death and how to stand it, with his being a strong advocate of the Christian approach to this existential problem. All had been laid down for Joan and her kin even before the beginning of time, he said. This idea, however, frightened me even more than the idea of death, so I am not certain I benefited in the intended way from his homily.
After the preaching, we repaired to the graveyard for further preaching.
Joan’s ashes had been “vaulted,” the Reverend having attended to that for us, in a metal box itself coated over with what appeared to be a beige space age plastic completely unyielding to the touch. This was a new policy set in place by the church to keep the ground from sinking over decaying boxes. The vault and Joan’s ashes within it appear completely non-biodegradable. That box, barring an atomic explosion and some form of anti-burial policy in the distant future, will remain in that graveyard for the next three billion years until the sun blows up and the end of time.
It was that kind of day overall, one that made one think of the time before time and the time when the earth will be reduced to an astral charcoal briquette, if even that, when the sun gives up the ghost and goes nova. These thoughts—and that of one’s personal morality—put the day on the hard side emotion-wise. Most of my days are on the hard side emotion-wise, but this was quite a bit more than usual hard, if you can imagine.
Later Carol and I towards the end of the day on the way back from a visit to the Village Cup, Lauren’s one and only coffee house, drove again through the graveyard and ran into the Reverend, who was there doing graveyard chores. At first I didn’t recognize him in his street clothes, and as we talked about the day, I realized that his shape in his street clothes was so considerably different than his shape in his suit and robes I had to conclude that the Reverend had to don for his preaching a corset or something of that kind that shifted the weight around his waist more upward.
I do not judge. But I was put in mind of Ecclesiastes and the vanity, all is vanity theme that runs through that book. But of course I am not sure of Ecclesiastes is saying that vanity is a bad thing really; just perhaps that is how it is. In which case that would make Reverend Roper, in the words of that notorious atheist, F. Nietzsche, “human, too human.” And who is not, human, too human?.