I went to the cemetery in Lebanon to pay my respects to a loved one, and when I finished my visit, I bumped into the resident caretaker on my way out. We chatted briefly, and he invited me to have coffee on the front porch of the simple family house inside the cemetery’s perimeter. Several younger children were darting between headstones, playing catch. I assumed they were his grandkids, and he confirmed it with a smile. I found it interesting that the kids were playing in the cemetery, and I questioned him about it.

“Oh, it’s ok… the dead don’t mind, they’re just kids. There is no disrespect from the kids.”

As we sipped on our coffees just a few feet from the closest graves, I asked him about life in the cemetery.

“It is very peaceful; nothing here to worry about.”
“Some people feel uncomfortable being in a cemetery, perhaps even afraid.”
“Not me”, he chuckled. “It is the living and not the dead that scare me. Just look around you at what the living do all the time. They lie, cheat, steal and hurt one another. The dead don’t do any of that; they are pure now, with their Father in heaven.”

He took a long drag on his cigarette and looked at me intently.

“There is nothing scary about cemeteries. Here is where people are the most honest about their feelings. Even the proudest and toughest men cannot stop themselves from crying. This world would be better if people were more conscientious about their feelings. I mean, why wait for someone to die before you start to live? Live now, be who you are, a human being, as God created you!”

I was, in fact, quite impressed with his views; they were totally aligned with my beliefs. After a brief silence, he continued:

“It is money that is the root of all evil. Everyone is racing for the money, and no one stops to look over their shoulders to see the grim reaper catching up. People think they’re smart, but everything has a price, and here is where the ultimate prices are paid.” he pointed at the graves.

“Some people say that things happen in cemeteries, other-worldly things. Have you ever experienced any of that?”
“I’ve seen and heard things, and so have my wife and children.”
“Were you scared?”
“Of course not! We let the poor souls be and pray they find their way.”

We finished our coffees, and I gave him a little Christmas present before I left. I admired this man’s simplicity, honesty and wisdom.

We learn new lessons daily, and today was no exception.

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