In “A Baby’s Funeral,” F.W. Boreham tells a most tearful story. He writes of the day he and his wife were packing a picnic basket to head out to spend the day in a park by the river. He looked out of his kitchen window and saw a woman pacing the sidewalk outside of his home, looking very troubled and tentative with every step, suddenly turning toward his door with determination and then, just as suddenly turning away. After watching her for several minutes, he stepped outside and asked if he could help her.
“Are you the minister of the church nearby?” she asked. When he said he was, she asked if she could come in; she had a sad story to tell. He invited her to sit in a comfortable chair, and he sat opposite her, leaning forward to hear her story. Her baby had died suddenly, she said, and she had rarely gone to church. She wanted someone to help her bury the little one.
“I’d be honored to do it,” said Boreham. He asked for all the particulars– the name of the father, the date of the birth, and all the information that should be entered into the register. They set the time for the funeral– the next afternoon — and she said good-bye. As Boreham picnicked with his wife that morning, he told her that the woman had seemed terrible distracted the whole time she was at their house. He wondered if there could be more to the story. But then he let the thought go.
When he and his wife returned at sunset there was the young woman, standing outside the house. “I’ve not told you the truth,” she admitted. “I am not married. My baby was born out of wedlock and was terribly deformed.” Sobbing, she proceeded to tell the rest of the story.
“That’s all right,” he assured her. “None of that ought to affect the funeral tomorrow.”
The next afternoon it was just the three of them at the funeral– Boreham, his wife, and the woman. To make matters worse, there was a driving rainstorm, and to add desolation to tragedy, the cemetery was brand-new. This little deformed corpse was the first to be laid into that barren stretch of ground. There they all clutched an umbrella, just the three of them. Boreham said that in all of his years of ministry, he had seldom felt as alone as at that moment. He could only imagine the young mother’s ache and fear. As the years went by, however, that mother became one of the most faithful members of that church. Week after week she showed up.
“Why would this woman be so faithful in church attendance?” one might ask. Surely it was because it was there that her baby was received and treasured. In a sense it became her new home, through the death of a beloved little one. It was the place where arms opened to her and became wrapped around her. It was the place where she felt loved and forgiven. It was the gateway to her baby’s heavenly journey.
The cemetery, new or old, is not our ultimate destination; it is merely a place in which to remember the symbols of a farewell. The person is not there; only the last memory is there. The respect shown in a cemetery comes not because it is home, but because it is where we bid believing loved ones a temporary good-bye. Jesus came from the Father and returned to the Father to prepare a place for you and for me. That’s home. That is our eternal dwelling. We cherish the tender metaphor of home because there we will unpack our suitcases for the last time.
-Ravi Zacharaias, “The Grand Weaver”, pg 157-159