In the past seven days I have visited the grave sites of at least sixteen of my ancestors, in six different cemeteries, and spanning seven generations. After attending the Teach Them Diligently conference in Washington, D.C., my son and I were able to travel to the little village of Singers Glen, Virginia, where at least five generations of my family lived.
We sat in the cemetery that overlooks the quiet town. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Joseph, raised his large family in a little house that still stands at the south end of town. He taught singing schools in the valley and printed songbooks with his sons in their home.
My great-great-grandmother, Alice, and her husband John lived in a brick house at the other end of town, and eventually followed their son to Oregon when he, his wife, and their firstborn (Glenna, my grandma, who was named after the town where she was born) moved there to pastor a church. We visited their graves on Saturday, along with my grandpa’s and grandma’s and my mother’s.
Alice’s daddy was a flag bearer during the Civil War. He was sent home to recover from injuries, and that’s when little Alice got her start. Thank you, Lord!
We also joined my mother’s cousins in a little country cemetery while they put out bouquets and showed us how beautiful tried and seasoned love between siblings, now in their eighties, can be.
After church on Sunday, we went to the graves of my own daddy, gone for almost eight years now, and my step-mother. We finished our “tour” at my daddy’s mother’s grave. When Daddy got too weak to clean her gravestone anymore, the job passed on to me. I like being there, remembering how much Daddy loved and appreciated his mama, and how honored I felt whenever he likened my mothering efforts to hers that he prized so dearly. Cleaning her grave site makes me feel like there’s still something I can do to tell him how much I love him.
We don’t always make it to all the different cemeteries. This year was unusual. But I’m always thankful for the reminders that come with these trips. Life is short. Our lives are tied to and profoundly influenced by those who have come before us. We don’t just stand on our own two feet. We stand on the shoulders of many faithful men and women who have lived and died before us. Their lives matter.
My life matters. What I do today affects those who will follow me. My little choices and my big decisions, my obedience and what I do about my sins — all of my walk with God will influence the lives of not only my children, but also their children, and the children of those children.
Lord, thank you for these men and women who have preceded me. Thank you for their courage, their sacrifice, their love, their faith. Thank You for Your faithfulness to them and to me. Give me grace to live a life that glorifies and honors You, and show your love and mercy to the generations who come after me, just as You have said You will.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deut. 7:9)