I don't know why I turned down that road. I never go there. Concentrating on the next task, I usually speed right by without ever noticing the iron gates, gravestones, and sign announcing the entrance to the cemetery. But today, in the cool rain and mist, I made the right hand turn and drove into St. Pat's Catholic cemetery.
Intrigued by the old markers, I drove slowly, taking mental notes of the dates and names. All the time, I wondered about the lives lived, the children lost, the spouses mourned.
Life is so short, I mused to myself.
That's when I saw it. Amid the Kennedy's, Mulhearn's, and O'Donnell's stood a big red stone family marker with "Burnes"engraved on the obelisk.
Curious, I got out and walked through the wet grass.
Yep..That's what it said...Thos Burnes: born December 24th 1833 died 1897.
Is Thos short for Thomas, I wondered.
Who was he? How did he get here? Could we be related?
Burnes is my maiden name and frankly, there aren't that many of us. I grew up in Michigan but I know my forefathers settled in Hopkins Minnesota, but I never expected to find my name in a cemetery in Northwest Iowa.
What did it mean? Did it mean that this place I fought so many years to call home could really be where my roots were?
I don't know. I don't know what it means, if anything.
I've thought a lot lately about God's big picture and how we only see a tiny, minuscule part.
My daughter is doing a project for English on families. They had to find relatives that came through Ellis Island. Well, all my ancestors have been here too long, but several of Brad's came from the Netherlands at the turn of the century and did make the journey through the Island. In searching for records, we found that there was a unique surname of good friends of ours from college that were on the same boat as Brad's ancestors. Amazing isn't it? To think that people over 100 years ago could have had a connection, long forgotten, that was remade by great grandchildren who never knew?
That's how it felt to see my name on that family marker. Could I have a connection to this place beyond marriage?
It would take much more research to find out, but the point is, God is ever weaving our lives together in a tapestry beyond out comprehension.
Our lives are so short and in two generations, no one will remember me or anything I've done, but somehow, how I live now, will impact future generations in ways I can't begin to imagine. It feels overwhelming and sweet, and lovely and big all at the same time.
"I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works... They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."
Psalm 145:1-7(italics mine)