“The saying is sure: If we have died with Christ, we will also live with him.” – 2 Timothy 2:11
I don’t know what happens when people die, though I’ve accompanied enough people through the process to believe there is something—and, more important, someone—on the other side of the veil. I’ve heard enough deathbed visions to think that while death takes our beloveds from us, it may reunite them with dear ones who’ve gone on before.
My people are buried in a simple, cooperatively-owned cemetery in the piney woods of East Texas. Stately live oaks tower over the graves, Spanish moss hanging from their branches like so many ladders connecting earth to heaven. Once a year the cemetery hosts a homecoming, and the living gather ’round their dead for an afternoon of visiting and pecan pie.
When the time came to lay my grandmother Edra to rest in the red clay soil of that place, the local preacher—her nephew and my dad’s double-first cousin—did the honors. Looking around, he reminded us that she was in good company.
The remains of her husband, Morris, rested on one side of her; her second-born child, Aubrey, whose death at 18 months old broke her heart, was on the other. Over there lay her identical twin, Neva. Over yonder were her sisters Iva, Roda, and Opal, her brothers Travis and Verdon, and her grandson Keith.
I don’t know where we go when we die, but I like to think there might be a welcoming party to greet us. I like to think it will feel like home.
Lord of the living and the dead, when the roll is called up yonder, may I find myself at home in your heart.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.