"The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,"
-Thomas Grey, Excerpt of Elegy written in a Country Churchyard, 1751.
The drive home from work was an uneventful one. I made the long trek up 9th Street and turned onto Elm. The last whispers of the day's light were fading from the sky as I continued on my way. The cemetery stretched long and beautiful to my right, a visual oxymoron if there ever was one. I slowed slightly as a massive Dodge dually put on its brakes. A Remington gun and elk-hunting sticker decorated the back window. I smiled as I found myself thinking about my dad who had similar stickers while I was growing up.
Then the blinker came on and the behemoth of a truck lumbered onto the dirt road of the cemetery. I cruised by and looked closely to see the driver. I was hardly surprised to see a scruffy, gruff-looking man. I also glimpsed a magnificent bouquet of flowers beside him in the passenger's seat.
I blinked and the truck was gone from view but hardly gone from my thoughts. I pulled up to my apartment a few minutes later and quickly got inside--it was freezing. I shook the snow from my coat as I thought. I would hardly choose tonight to go and visit a grave. Snow already dusted the ground and the cold threatened to bite past the glass of my apartment windows.
The heater of my apartment bumped to life as I sat on the couch, staring out the window. I couldn't get the image of that truck out of my mind. It wasn't particularly remarkable. My town has numerous trucks, all with the characteristic "redneck" driving them. But still, the scene seemed to engrave itself on my mind's eye.
The dusting of snow grew to a blanket as I sat and thought, sat and thought, sat and thought. I wondered who the man in the dually had lost. Who had drawn him from a warm house and into the bitter cold that had clenched the town? Who's memory sparked such love that on such a night, he would brave the lonely cold to visit?
I squirmed in my seat as the image flooded my mind. I saw him, standing at the foot of a simple headstone, flowers in one hand, the other shoved in a Car-hart jacket. His breath drifts away in magnificent billows of heat, lost to the freeze of night. Snow settles on shuddering shoulders--and not because of the cold.
I continued to descend the proverbial rabbit hole until a completely different and incandescent thought entered my mind. I heard a trumpet blare from the east and the ground shuddered beneath my feet. The sky lit up like a jewel, shining in a radiant display of golds and silvers. All this to proclaim the return of the Savior.
I thought about the man with the dually in the death-yard and smiled to myself. If he plays his cards right, he'll see whoever earned those flowers again. He'll see him or her in a shower of sparks during which light and love collide. I count myself lucky to anticipate that day.
Because it's coming soon.