"God, Who is abundant in goodness…..
that you may also be full of goodness and able to share it with others."
Exodus 34:6 and Romans 15:14
The woman could out chatter the best. How Harlene could think of so many things to say wwithout skipping
a beat dumbfounded me.
My partner Vince and I once lived on Cape Cod, and during a visit to us, Vince’s mother Harlene and I had
a day all to ourselves, and I wanted to show her some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path places. I had
many. We wound up maneuvering a slippery muddy trail through the mews along side of a picturesque
tranquil pond. It typified one of those breathtaking New England scenes you’d see on a calendar or jigsaw
puzzle. There was a young shirtless guy fishing in the bright sunshine on this warm morning. He was nestled
within a little grassy inlet, unconcerned with shading himself under the nearby tree because the fish were
plentiful and he was totally absorbed in his pursuit. Harlene naturally stopped to engage him in friendly
conversation, typically Harlene, and looking across the profusely pond-lilied blue water I watched a family of
swans effortlessly gliding along its way. Conversation over, our next challenge was to straddle a formation of
big rocks which bridged a trickling stream where herring spawned in season, and from there we managed our
way under overhanging trees along a completely secluded pathway which lead us to our destination of an old
forgotten cemetery. It was a silent and deeply wooded area, and the pathway, entangled with protruding
roots, had seen very few visitors in recent years. This was one of the charming little known places I had
discovered and wanted to share it with Harlene, but heavy overgrowth during the past year made it seem like
uncharted territory all over again.
We might have trekked right by the entrance to the cemetery had it not been for the aroma of marijuana
floating over the hillside where the cemetery lay, and it's the kind or smell that grabbed my attention. In front
of us stood two stone posts, probably hundreds of years old, and between them an ancient iron gate, very
much rusted yet still marginally functional. The posts were uncooperatively leaning in opposite directions,
and the iron gate was favoring the wrong side. Oddly, there was a weathered mailbox attached to the top of
the irregular and pathetic fence which was supposed to guard the cemetery, but did no such thing. The
mailbox puzzled me because I couldn't imagine who in a cemetery would possibly be receiving mail, much less
that a mail deliverer could conceivably find it. Surely it was intended as a joke. The gate let out unseemly
squeaks and groans as we forced it open, sending signals to the young couple who were sitting on the
hillside among the old grave stones smoking their dope that their private moments would no longer be.
We could have simply straddled the rail fence, but that was too logical.
We were greeted by a young couple who were lying on the hillside watching the swans and casually sharing
their joint. They departed a few moments later possibly to a more private locale. Typical of the ancient New
England cemeteries, many of the precious grave stones were toppled over and had lain prostrate for
decades. Moss covered, they were difficult to read even when we carefully fingered over the indented
scripts. Most were of thin slate, some broken, and the ancestral names had long gone out of favor. The life
spans were dwarfed as compared to today and we couldn't help but be filled with curiosity of how these
ancestors lived; their personalities and difficulties. We shared a casual stroll along the hillside where the
graves lay erratically strewn and eagerly busied ourselves with uncovering debris of great variety - nature's
intrusions upon the old stones. It was a day of bonding for us, and as far as I can remember it was the one
time Harlene and I were as one. It was almost as though I too were her son, and during those delightful
and intimate moments I probably was.
Harlene is almost ninety now. She never came back to the Cape again, but perhaps the young man fishing
in the warmth of the sun was blessed that morning by her friendly words. Maybe the young couple have
since returned to lay on the hillside watching the family of swans. Maybe all three were touched by her
goodness, for she was that ribbon which gracefully wove through and tied her family together for many
years. Like Harlene's life, God would have us be filled with goodness too, believing in believing,
and taking the time to share it.
The family consisted of Murle and Harlene, and their sons Jerry, Vince, and Daryl. But there’s another
one…..there’s a little baby named Judith Anne who hasn’t been with her parents or brothers, for God took
her to Himself while she was a tiny infant. She’s with Jesus and hoping for her family to join her.
And here’s the one ceratin way it can happen:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever trusts in Him will know everlasting life”