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  • Writer's pictureJ. J. LeVan

Closer Than You Think

On Memorial Day as a child, we would always visit the cemetery where my grandfathers and grandmothers were laid to rest. I was young. It was an eerie experience. I had a sister who loved to share Vincent Price's black and white movies with me and I now realize that this sharing may have been the dark backdrop that shrouded all of my visits to cemeteries in my youth. Cemeteries were tense and terrifying to me.

While weeding my grandparent’s overgrown stones, my mother would ask the much younger me to go fetch water for her to complete her small bouquets of the traditional Memorial Day pink peonies in glass jelly jars. I was terrified to walk through that graveyard, surrounded by death and despair. But, I reluctantly obeyed. Wandering uphill through death stone after death stone in the graveyard, I would lose sight of my mom. "Mommy!!!" I would cry. I paused to listen. "I'm right over here," her calm voice replied, sounding humored. This gave me just enough strength to carry on.

Some of the plots had fresh dirt, which I would quietly tip toe around. According to those old movies, that kind of soil held the tremendous possibility of producing pale, gnarled, emerging hands to grab ankles. These thoughts accelerated my steps through the yard. I felt that I had to wander on alone in terror for what seemed like miles to find the pump station. Arriving, I would immediately blast the water into my bucket, as grave heaviness crept in all around me. Then, running scared with uneven steps back to the sound of my mom’s voice, the brimmingly-full container sloshed all over Yoder and Miller and Kaughman as I sped past their monuments. I usually arrived at my mother's side with only a half bucket of the precious cargo.

This past Memorial Day, I went again to those honor stones of my family; my great-grandparents, grandparents, father, and most recently my Vincent Price-loving sister, for whom I brought a pot of daisies. I found myself needing water this time which made me smile. I glanced up from her space that was nearby my grandparent’s stone and I easily spotted the spigot. That terrible, rusted spigot. The very same spigot that I had dreaded as a child.

Somehow now with a more mature perspective, it amazed me how CLOSE the water had actually been to our family plot where my mom had stood. Years before I had been so focused on the darkness, the dreadful, and the doom, I failed to realize just how near I was to my mom. I had never really been out of her care and always been just within safety’s reach.

Because a loving voice was guiding me back, the return was always SOOO much better. Her reassuring voice took my focus off of the overwhelm and placed it on a guiding love. What a lesson for my heart; listening for God’s voice in my life, His leading, and realizing that He is so much closer than we think, even though we cannot see Him.

Our path with our special kids can be scary and the journey seems long. It is so easy to lose sight of where we actually are in all of the uncertainty and the unforseen. In Jesus, we are not alone in our navigation and we are never out of His care. If we but call out to Him and pause to listen for his voice, He will lead our way.

And He's closer than we think.

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.”

Psalm 116:1-7

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