Walk Through the Graveyard
On Wednesday morning, Beverly Hurney, the longtime superintendent of St. Mary’s churchyard, walked me (and Angus) through the nearly 200-year-old burial ground that borders the church.
As we walked through the rows of stones Beverly pointed out connections between families, shared stories, and identified specific people. In the hour-long tour, the epitaphs on many of the stones caught my attention.
In a brief sentence or two, a snippet of a biography emerges. ‘They lived the American dream’ one says. ‘She hath done what she could’ another states. Other epitaphs speak of service in the armed forces. Many describe the love of family and faith. The epitaph of Elisha D. Sparhawk and his wife Elizabeth especially moved me. Sparhawk was 61 when he died in 1861.
His stone says, ‘I have reached the joys of heaven; I am one of a sacred band. To my head a crown of gold is given and a lamp is in my hand. Then why do your tears run down? Why your heart so sorely riven? For another gem in the Saviour’s crown and another soul in Heaven.’ Elizabeth died eleven years later and her stone simply reads ‘meet me in heaven.’
I pray that at the end of my life I will have the faith illustrated on the Sparhawk’s headstone. In these quiet summer months, I invite you to spend some time being reacquainted with the saints from our community buried in our churchyard who have gone before us and teach us about work, family, and faith.