In the old church yard where the faithful gather, there’s a place they have left for me
By the old oak tree where my folks lie buried there’s a place they have left for me
I’m going there to meet my savior, I’ve got a mansion in the sky
Family and friends will be there waiting
We'll be there by and by
So begins the Ballard of The Old Churchyard, an evocative song about understanding how life flows into death. In the refrain of life there are certain patterns common to us all, a yearning for connectedness with our folks and a desire to imprint in some fashion a memory that we existed for a span. I believe that how we respect life transitioning unto death gives clarity to the life we live. Just as a vicious dog does not dwell in the house of kindness neither does harsh memories for the departed. It is the sobering realization that as the departed are now soon we will be that makes us equal as fellow humankind. I guess that is the driving force to learn about our ancestors that by knowing them we might gain insight into ourselves and the forces that came together to produce us. I have found great satisfaction by solving the mystery of a lost grave or discovering the name of a long forgotten child sleeping in death on a hillside. I am of the opinion that the meaning of life can often be found in your family churchyard. You will at least find someone you loved and loved you has had their earthly remains placed there.
Science tells us many things about ourselves, our world we live in and the universe it inhabits. Science knows the how of our birth but not the why. Science understands the mechanics of death and decay but can shed no light on the subject of an immortal soul. There are religions of every stripe the world over which offer their take on the subject of an afterlife. Buddha taught Karma (cause-and-effect ethics), Maya (the illusory nature of the world), and Samsara (the cycle of reincarnation). Buddhists believe that the ultimate goal in life is to achieve “enlightenment” as they perceive it. Jesus taught that salvation (including eternal life) was freely available to all men through faith in Him alone. I think that each of us must reach our own personal gestalt with death understanding it in the context that it is in common to everything that lives. The next time you find yourself in an old churchyard (graveyard) take some time to ponder on the lives lived by the inhabitants of the graves.