by my friend, Ben
It were still right dark when me’n ol’ Blue got to the gate at Hickory Ridge Cemetery. It were. It would be nye on to an hour before I’d see the dim light of the risin’ sun off to the East. It would.
When the headlights on my truck shined on them big iron gates they was already open. I reckon Elwood Gibbs’d done been here an’ gone. Elwood were the caretaker an’ it were his job to be sure the gates was open, specially on Easter mornin’. It were.
I reckon you could call Elwood a kinda hermit. He were a miner til he got a little crippled-up in a mine cave-in. He did. It weren’t bad enough to keep him outta the mines, but he never went back. He didn’t. He told me one day when I were visitin’ ma an’ pa’s graves, that when he saw them rocks comin’ at him he told God iffen he lived he’d never go back in the mines. He did.
Folks what knowed him all his life say it changed him. He started stayin’ off to himself. He did. So when the job takin’ care of the town cemetery opened up, he took it. He did.
He lived in a little house on the backside of the cemetery what went with the job. Since he stayed to his self, an’ didn’t talk much, the kids here an’ about thought he were kinda spooky. They did. Folks in town said they sometimes saw his flashlight goin’ in an’ out of the graves late at night. They did. They reckoned Elwood were lookin’ for trespassers. Some folks said he mighta been talkin’ to the dead. They did. As for me’n ol’ Blue, we got along fine with Elwood. We did. Fact is, since he knowed I’d had key to the gate for years, iffen he’d see me’n ol’ Blue at ma an’ pa’s graves he’d come by to pet Blue an’ sit a spell. He would.
It’d been a right mild winter, an’ this Easter mornin’ were as warm as any I could remember. It were. So when I parked my truck I dropped the tailgate an’ sat there lookin’ out over Hickory Ridge. I did. I reckon there couldn’t be a better place in the whole world to live. Hickory Ridge were all I could want. It were.
As I sat in the darkness, a gentle breeze come along an’ made me think of spirits. It did. I don’t mean them ghost-type spirits. I mean the ones what remind us of folks we love. Kinda like they’d kissed us.
It made me think of Ma, an’ I reached into my truck an’ got my guitar. I did. I nearly always brought it with me when I come up here. I do.
Thinkin’ of Ma made me think of them Easter mornin’s when she were up before dawn, fixin’ a special Easter breakfast for me’n Pa. It did.
There were this one time I woke up an’ found her sittin’ on the porch in her rocker, holdin’ her favorite cup of coffee. She were. She smiled an’ held out her hand an’ took mine. She did. She said, “Benny, can you imagine what it were like for the Lord to have woke up on Easter mornin’? Do you reckon he were scared, bein’ all wrapped up in them cloths what they’d buried him in? I wonder what it were like, it bein’ dark an’ all, an’ him not knowin’ where he were.
“I reckon by the time he got his self unwrapped, the stone were already rolled away from the openin’ to the tomb. An’ I reckon as he sat up he said, ‘Thank you Father! Thank you!’ That’s what I woulda said. I would.
“I wonder where he went after he was able to walk? The Bible say’s the tomb were empty when them women got there to finish his burial. Do you reckon he walked around that there garden, an’ maybe found a place to sit an’ pray? I reckon he needed to know what to do next, bein’ alive again an’ all.
“Do you think he saw them folks what come to the tomb, but decided not to let ‘em see him right then? I wonder iffen when he saw Mary cryin’ that he just couldn’t stay away? An’ I wonder what it were like for her when she heard him say her name?”
I told Ma I reckoned some day she could ask him herself. I did. She smiled an’ rocked back an forth lookin’ at the sun what were just startin’ to come up. She did. Iffen I’da knowed she were gonna get sick the next year, I reckon I wouldn’t a said what I did. She never saw another Easter Mornin’. She didn’t.
Down in Hickory Ridge I could see some folks stirrin’ about an’ I knowed they’d be headin’ up this way for the Easter sunrise service perty soon. I did. So I strummed on my ol’ guitar an sang one a Ma’s favorite songs.
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Ol’ Blue come back from whatever he were doin’ an’ jumped up in the truck beside me. He did. He got real close to me like he did when he wanted some attention. He did. As I rubbed his chest I wondered how many times Ma had imagined walkin’ in that garden alone with the Lord? I did. I don’t know nothin’ much about what happens after you die, but I can see Ma openin’ her eyes an’ sayin’, “Thank you Father. Thank you.” An I reckoned maybe the next thing she would see is the one Mary saw in that other garden all them years ago. I did.
The mornin’ sun would soon be breakin’ over the hills an’ I knowed it would move across ma an’ pa’s graves. It would. Ma’d picked them grave spots cause she said when the time come she wanted her an’ Pa to be lookin’ toward the farm an’ the risin’ sun. She did.
As I stood by Ma an’ Pa’s graves I said, “Happy Easter Ma an’ Pa. I reckon when the time comes I’ll open my eyes an’ I’ll see your smile an’ your eyes all sparkly -like, the way they were on the porch that Easter mornin’ years ago. I will.
CONCERNS: Mike Branch while he is in the Sudan. Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is still unresponsive after falling as the result of a stroke several weeks ago. Judy (Shivers) Edwards is slowly recovering from the result of a brain aneurism, as is her sister, Ann, due to a broken leg. Keep Del Bolin’s mother in your prayers. Jim White’s mother came trough heart surgery and is recovering. Sheila Jansen and Daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Tolly Nicklas, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 17-22
Monday: John 8:21-47
Tuesday: Luke 22:14-30
Wednesday: Luke 12:13-34
Thursday: Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Acts 4:2-5:11
Saturday: Psalm 99:1-9; 100:1-5
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 24-29
Monday: John 17:1-26
Tuesday: Revelation 19:1-16
Wednesday: Luke 16:19-31
Thursday: Matthew 9:1-13
Friday: I Corinthians 10:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 106:1-48
Today is Easter Sunday. It is also the third Sunday, which means we have an alternative service. Today’s service has been arranged by Wayne Flora. Our thanks to Wayne for his willingness to serve in this way.
Today is also Super Sunday. We will be eating together in the annex after the service. If you are visiting with us, please consider yourself our guest for the meal.
Since it is Easter Sunday, and some folks are gone or have family visitors, the steering committee will only meet if necessary. However, copies of the latest financial statement are on the library table.
Due to the age of the toilet in the women’s restroom in the main building, it was unable to be repaired. A new one has been installed, as well as in the women’s restroom in the annex.
Total Action for Progress, a local service, as sent us several pieces of information concerning programs they offer related to domestic violence.
You can find pamphlets on the foyer table and more information on the downstairs bulletin board. On the downstairs information there are tear-offs with needed telephone numbers. If you know someone who could benefit from this service, please take notice.
James Downing , who developed our website, has sent the results from March. For a small congregation, the results are good. 377 visited the site. 126 used Google Maps to find us. 16 asked for directions, and 1 called the church.
The banquet for our graduates will be held on Super Sunday evening, May 21st in the annex. The time will be 6:00.