Death and Resurrection
Dead plant comes to life
Rain falls and within seconds dried-up moss that’s been virtually dead for decades unfurls in an explosion of green. The microscopic creatures living in the moss come out to feed.
Quotes and photos above from Gardenista.com
Easter 2020, a Reflection
After my book tour to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania last September (2019), my sister Jean and I visited Bossler Mennonite Cemetery, where my brother Mark is buried. Our feet trod slowly – and with dread – the distance from the church to the tip top of the cemetery, knowing we would see the sturdy granite tombstone, carved with wheat sheaves, symbolic of his work on farm equipment at my dad’s shop.
Under this monument lie the remains of our dear brother, gone way too soon. His plot is next to my parents, Ray and Ruth Longenecker at the topmost row of the cemetery, bordered by a farmer’s fence. Maybe there is some significance to that specific location—on a hill, and at the top of that hill.
A writer in The New Yorker magazine explores the significance of such placement . . .
Mount Lebanon, where my father is buried, is a hilly place—as many cemeteries are. Maybe this is meant to mirror the spiritual topography of life on Earth, or maybe it’s just for the pretty views.
March 8, 2019 The New Yorker
Easter in the Christian calendar occurs this year in the month of April. Some years the date occurs earlier, in March. Here is a link that tells how the date of Easter each year is determined. Easter signals the renewal of life in spring time, and a reminder of the eternal life, the promise of Christ’s resurrection.
My brother’s body is interred in a cemetery where my husband and I may be buried one day. But rest assured, according to the hope of the Resurrection, his spirit is with His LORD.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And he that believeth in me shall never die.
~ John 11:25 King James Version
What pleasant memories of a loved one do you cherish this season?
Do you think hilly cemeteries mirror the spiritual topography of life on earth, as the writer quoted in this post suggests?
What plant do you count on to bloom every year?
Good morning, Marian! I had never thought of the spiritual topography of cemeteries. I suppose there could be something to it–cemeteries are often filled with symbols–weeping willows and such. The large nineteenth-century parklike cemeteries such as Mount Auburn in Cambridge, MA and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia were meant to have scenic views, and people spent afternoons there with picnics. So, perhaps it is both, if possible. I think cemeteries around here in S. Jersey are just flat
I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot recently because my mom thinks he is in the same facility with her.
It makes me so happy to see first the crocuses, and then the daffodils appear each spring.
Thanks for your comments about the topography of cemeteries, Merril. Often your poetry helps me look upward toward the sky and celestial beings. Perhaps the hilliness of cemeteries could be a launch pad for poetic musings – just a thought.
About your mom: I suppose the thought of her husband in the same facility with her brings her comfort, probably no harm in that. I’ve seen crocuses daffodils on your pages, blithely full of promise.
Beautiful tribute to Mark, Marian. I do agree with what The New Yorker writer expressed. Many relatives from my mother’s side of the family are buried on a rugged hill top in West Virginia. As a child, I remember thinking it was a huge, gorgeous mountain, covered in wild flowers. The last time I visited, in my early 30’s, it was overgrown and neglected. I remember leaving and wishing that childhood memory hadn’t been replaced. Stay well!
Thanks for your comment and the well wishes too, Jill.
I’ll glad this post evoked images of a beautiful place in your childhood memory. Hold on to the image of mountain wild flowers. 🙂
The gravestone for your dear brother is lovely and perfect. My younger brother, who died 45 years ago at age 19, Is buried in the local cemetery in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We choose an appropriate stone for him as well that depicted his love for the outdoors. At the time it was a new part of the cemetery, and we didn’t realize that a cherry tree had been planted by his grave. He died in the spring and every year we visited, we could see how the tree had grown. The cherry blossoms were more amazing every year which gave us comfort. The symbolism was not lost on us.
Your story reminds us that rebirth follows death, the natural depicting the spiritual. How appropriate that cherry blossoms (I picture pink ones) cheer the hearts of those who grieve the loss of a loved one. Thanks, Darlene.
By the way, I enjoyed your comment about picking a marriage partner you wouldn’t mind being quarantined with on your FB page – ha!)
Always loving your memoriesl and tributes. Blessings, Marian……
Blessings to you as well, Jack. I appreciate your connection here each week, whether you comment or not. Also, I think you had a hand in setting up the website “Growing Up in Elizabethtown,” so appreciated these days.
The sea oat. It enhances the sand dune, which helps with beach resilience…..
Thanks, Steve, for bringing your native habitat into this discussion.
By the end of April I want to have your latest book (Roxie) on my “have read” list!
Been thinking more than usual about my dad, who died March 26, 2006. That was a very hard month too. Dad knows, your brother Mark knows, your mother and father and dear aunt know, and so many friends and relatives know the resurrection promise. We struggle on.
P.S., We’re fine, just nostalgic.
The hope of the resurrection is a surety Christians can cling to in these perilous times. Facing what we can’t control is forcing many of us to look to beyond the natural world to the supernatural.
I’m glad to hear you are fine, and there’s no harm in feeling nostalgic, Melodie. Thank you!
Marian, this will be an unforgettable Easter all over the world. Thank you for both a sign from nature and a memory of your brother to give us a glimpse of your faith in operation in trying times. Also, for the cover of Ideals magazine, one I remember from my own childhood. I don’t think it’s published anymore. The title seems quaint now, doesn’t it? There’s a FB page for those who love nostalgia (selling back issues of the magazine and making memes out of them). This Sunday, Palm Sunday, will also be memorable, I am sure. Stay well.
Thank you, faithful friend, for you commenting here and also for your efforts on other social media to bring people together, especially as the season of Easter & Passover approaches.
You remember when we cleared out Ruthie’s house, she who kept so, so much. All the magazines she’d ever subscribed to we curated though I don’t remember many U. S. News and World Reports. I kept a few of her hoard of Ideals magazines. This cover came from Easter 1955, which I wrote a blog post about two years ago: https://marianbeaman.com/2018/03/28/easter-meditation-jonah-carl-sandburg/
Keep on inspiring, Shirley, and may you and your family stay well.
A lovely tribute to Mark Marian. I love those sheaves of wheat. And a wonderful analogy to giving the plant whatever it is, a little water and it WILL resurrect. As in Christ’s Resurrection. Against all odds, those green shoots so symbolic of life, appear. I’ve just done a massive re-planting of succulents that were dotted here there and everywhere, into a designated space in my garden. I’m still to lay the stones but while I was doing this back breaking work my thoughts turned to my parents who I seem to have been thinking about a lot lately.
Easter and Pesach occur at roughly the same time, when the moon is full.
I’m not at all knowledgeable about the names of plants. I’m trying to think what always blooms. Daisies? African violets? Right now, even though autumn is here and it is much cooler, my garden is still showing bursts of colour.
Spring approaches as fall comes to your hemisphere, Susan. Still, we are connected. I appreciate your thoughts about plantings. My daughter came over this morning and suggested some repotting, but not much else. It will feel good to get my fingers in the dirt, especially to give the herbs some fresh soil.
Blessings to you for commenting — and for your remembrances of loved ones as the season changes.
I used to have one of those magical desert plants years ago: it was quite impressive.
Regrowth and new life is everywhere for us to enjoy this time of year, but spring is also a good time to remember our dear departed in the hope their souls live on. Big virtual virus-free hug , Marian. ❤
So you had a resurrection plant – wonderful!
I’ll accept your big virtual virus-free hug and your remembrance of loved ones in this season of change, Fatima. 🙂
Beautiful post, Marian! A fitting tribute to your brother. Love the tie-in to the resurrection plant and the resurrection of Jeus.
Here in the flatlands, our cemeteries aren’t hilly. 😀 But I appreciate the symbolism of hilly cemeteries.
So many family and friends have April birthdays so I can’t help thinking of them!
Thank for chiming in, Linda Marie. I’m glad your have family and friends with April birthdays because you’ll surely remember them. Tomorrow I look forward to some special mail from you. What a blessing you are on your blog . . . and everywhere else!
Your post has brought good memories of Easter Sunday as a child. A new dress, generally a bright sunny day (in my memory anyway) and azaleas in bloom as we’d ride off to church.
Here in Vermont I still have patches of earth with a foot of snow on them. But spring is coming, life goes on, and those azaleas will bloom again. That’s what I believe.
I can’t imagine a foot of snow, but I’m sure all kinds of lush grass and lovely blooms are hiding underneath just ready to burst forth. Life goes on, seasons cycle, I believe that too. Thanks, Janet! 🙂
Thanks for remembering our brother, a kind soul.
Thanks for commenting, Jean. Can it be two years ago this month the alarm sounded and we were summoned to our brother’s bedside. Yes, a kind soul – in a better place and not dealing with a nasty virus which has probably shut down Gus’ and restaurants all over PA. 🙂
Marian — “Spiritual topography.” That’s food for thought on this rainy day in Boise. Oh, and I count on tulips to bloom every year.
Tulips are a favorite, but they don’t grow well in Florida, so I buy them fresh cut in the grocery store. Now azaleas and hibiscus are blooming and I see flowering raspberry plants in the preserve.
Write on – and stay well, Laurie!
A deep and intense conversation here about our dead loved ones, their resting spot, our beliefs, and life returning always. I miss my dad – he’s been gone for almost ten years. My brother and I were with him at his place when he died. It was the most tender, incredible, difficult and loving time I’ve ever experienced. Our dad’s desire was to be cremated – we’ve all talked about that a lot – the Earth has little space for large cemeteries as population continues to explode. After a beautiful service at a church, we placed his ashes in the church garden made expressly for ashes of loved ones. But we also were given a box of some of those ashes, since my Dad’s wish was also to be spread on the grounds of the small church in NJ that we attended as a family. He told me his best years were raising my brother and me, and going to church with the family every Sunday. I suppose that’s “spiritual topography’! xo
One thing I regret is that I was not with any of my loved ones when they died. In two cases, the deaths happened when I was far away another state. My Aunt Ruthie and brother Mark “sneaked away” when we weren’t looking. I’m glad you were at the bedside when your father passed away.
I like that your version of spiritual topography includes your family – together – being together, going to church. All my relatives were buried in the traditional way, except my brother who had regard for the earth and its limited resources. Thank you for sharing all this, Pam!, and as I’ve said numerous times here: Be safe, and well! 🙂
My Aunt Polly is buried in the Bainbridge Cemetery near the bottom of the gently sloping hill, next to her husband Douglass Longenecker. Aunt Polly outlived her sisters Jean (my grandmother) and Ruth by quite a few years.
Visiting cemeteries is something I learned from my Uncle Ben Hoffman Withers (RIP). I often walk through the local cemetery that backs onto our local city park here in Decatur.
I am familiar with the Bainbridge cemetery where several relatives on my dad’s side, his uncles Harry and Leonard Horst, are buried. Our family has owned land in Bainbridge too, the site of one of the chapters “Tomato Girl” in my memoir Mennonite Daughter.
Thanks for reading and comment, Bill!
I bought a “Royal Wedding” poppy in memory of my brother. He died on the day that Prince William married Kate. Poppies, when they aren’t blooming, are rather ugly. My husband passed by the garden and, thinking the poppy was a weed, plucked it out. A short time later, I walked by the garden and saw the empty spot. Horrified, I cried, “What happened to my poppy?!” My husband was just as horrified to discover his mistake. He retrieved it from the compost pile and we re-planted the dead-looking plant. I am happy to say that it too resurrected.
Your poppy story in the garden is the best illustration of death and rebirth I can think of. I’m glad horror turned to joy in the end. Thanks, Arlene! 🙂
Marian, thanks for sharing about your brother. I can relate as I lost a brother way too soon as well, in April of last year, the first of our siblings to pass away at age 71, very suddenly due to blood clots. We have a tree planted in his memory and a bench with a plaque under the tree. The weather is slowly turning into spring and we will take a pilgrimage to that spot soon.
I love Hyacinths, first harbingers of spring, and yesterday our daughter brought us groceries (we are staying home because of the coronavirus) and a beautiful purple potted hyacinth, which will later go into our garden. God is good and I’m so thankful for resurrection miracles!
I remember your blog post about the loss of your brother, similar to mine – too young and so suddenly. But we are not God, whose ways are higher than our ways.
And you know how much I love hyacinths, having read my “Easter” chapter in my memoir. The spicy-sweet scent always takes me back to happy family times – together – something we have taken for granted – until NOW!
You mentioned,” We have a tree planted in his memory and a bench with a plaque under the tree.” Blessings on that pilgrimage, whenever you are able to take it. 😉
Thanks Marian for a lovely post.
Hollywood Cemetery over in Richmond (about 70 miles from here) is one of my favorite places to visit and whenever I go in that direction you might find me wandering over hill and dale enjoying its beauty. It is the resting place of 2 presidents and soldiers who fought and died during the civil war. It is also a registered arboretum and is renowned for its gardens and numerous varieties of trees.
My favorite flowers +that come back year after year are Hellebores or Lenten Roses. They are the very first thing to bloom here, sometimes in February and come in a variety of lovely soft colors from a pale green to the deepest dark purple. I have white ones and cranberry colored ones blooming in the front of my house. Also their foliage stays green most of the year.
Hollywood Cemetery sounds so glamorous, but your description makes it seem like a place of peace and calm – and history.
Do enjoyed those Lenten roses, white, cranberry, and whatever color bursts into bloom. Wishing you and Bill healthy days. I know they will probably be quiet ones. I don’t know about your state, but Florida will go into lockdown tomorrow night, with only essential services carried on. Thanks, Joan! 🙂
A lovely tribute to Mark, Marian. Your post brings to mind memories of Mama and many other loved ones in our family who are now with the Lord…
“With the Lord,” a phrase of such comfort and joy, for we will see them again. I appreciate your stopping by, Bette! 😉
Beautiful tribute to your brother, Mark. At this season, I seem to think a lot about my dad. He loved the earth beneath his feet and dirt in his hands. Although not a farmer, he planted a small garden in our backyard each spring. But my favorite thing among his plantings were the beautiful pansies and the story he shared each year of finding their faces in the blossoms. Something I’ve cherished since my childhood.
You are among a large group of people who are thinking of loved ones these days. I notice when the seasons change I feel more nostalgic. Now, in this period of crisis, our emotions and tender feelings are heightened.
Our daughter Crista has loved pansies since she was a little girl, I think because of the faces. Today, she came over to give me advice about my patio garden. “Mom, you don’t need to buy anything new. Just get rid of the pots with dead stuff in them, and then group the lively plants together.” So simple . . . and easy too.
Cherish the days, Sherrey, and may you and your loved ones stay safe! 😀
A lovely tribute to Mark, Marian…I suppose the only thought I have or which sprang to the fore on reading this post was my dear nana who is resting in a small copse where bluebells and forget me knots…two of my favourite flowers appear in the spring…It also reminded me of the story of the Secret Garden which I love…Stay safe and well 🙂 xx
Forget me knots for remembrance and bluebells for melodious thoughts – I can’t think of a better combination of flowers for your dear nana. Thanks sharing here and for mentioning the Secret Garden, a book with fond memories for me also.
The same good wishes go to you and your family in Thailand, Carol! 🙂
Beautiful tribute, Marian. I think of my mother these days. She would have been 101 years old on March 29. She died at age 84, and she wanted to be cremated. We scattered her ashes in the ocean, as she requested. Her last years were difficult; she had stroke-induced dementia. Her death was a blessing; she was no longer her brilliant, determined, tough self.
All I can say here is that your mother’s brilliance, determination, and toughness has been reincarnated in her daughter, YOU, Victoria!
A sweet post, Marian. I enjoy the peace of cemeteries though I don’t have any recent relatives to visit. Our ashes are returned to nature but also in spots that feel special. And I do love the sense of renewal and rebirth that comes with spring. The seasons are wonderful reminders of the cycles of life. <3
Diana, I believe I’ve met you twice today: here and on a blog featuring Annika, a good thing. Yes, we are in a weird season now, but spring persists, as always. When we get through this, I hope we will be kinder – and wisely, surely! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Your brother has the kindest of faces 😢 I bet you miss him dreadfully .
I’m not brilliant in the garden , having said that , I am fascinated by other people’s gardens and I love to watch gardening programs .
It’s daffodils for me I start looking for their tiny green shoots at Christmas . We’ve had a glorious show this year …yellow makes me happy.
By the way something else that makes me happy , your book 🤗 . I have just started to read it . My lovely Amazon man left it outside my door with a smile the other day …so I’m tucking in .😉
You sneaked in here when I wasn’t looking – ha! I like daffodils too, such cheery yellow faces. Once I painted our kitchen cabinets yellow just for the cheeriness.
Yes, I do miss Mark; it was about this time of year when he left us.
I’m really chuffed that my book arrived. Take your time, but I’m eager to know what you think of my story. Virtual hugs to you, Cheery Cherry! oxo
I like the thought of spiritual topography.
It was a new thought to me too. Thanks again, Lady Fi!
I also lost a brother named Mark, and just recently his wife passed away in the same hospice room where Mark passed away 3 years ago. Yes, Easter season will be memory of their losses always. Right now it is still sad for me, but I know too, the memories will be pleasant in upcoming Easter seasons!
Lynn, I wonder if you live in the same area of Pennsylvania as Mark and I did. My condolences to you in the loss of your brother and sister-in-law.
Thank you for noticing and commenting. This is how we keep memories alive – by remembering! Thanks for stopping by today.
A beautiful tribute to your brother. the rebirth that spring reveals certainly brings us hope and reinforces belief.
Thank you, Sue. How lovely to see you here, so appreciated. Stay safe and be well! 🙂
30 years ago this Easter, my uncle was killed on Maundy Thursday. It was his son’s 7th birthday. I spent Good Friday driving 6 hours with my brother to get his suit (we didn’t catch him before he left to come home for Easter). It was his 21st birthday. Easter Sunday was the funeral service. The sun broke the stained glass window as we sang the final hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. My uncle was 31. Easter has always been a time of sorrow and yearning, and expectation because we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and we rejoice that the King is coming again. Blessings to you my friend.xoxo
Sorrow, yearning – and the expectation of Christ’s return in glory! I felt all those emotions as I read your comment here. Thank you so much: Easter blessings to you as well, Jenn!
If there is a meaning to the topography of hills and cemeteries, this wouldn’t work in Belgium, as there are no hills. A flat country with flat cemeteries. 🙂
The reason I have thought about my dear Oma more than usual, is because of the Coronavirus. She’d be in lock-down at the nursing facility and be at an extremely high risk, not being able to see her loved ones. It would have been so awful for her. I’m glad she didn’t have to go through this period.
Hi, Liesbet! Years ago, with Eurail passes in hand, Cliff and I zoomed through Belgium on our way to the Netherlands. I remember the flatlands and the architecture, wishing we could stop off and at least see some lace – ha!
Like you, I am happy my deceased relatives don’t have to live through this. I’d feel so helpless with them far away. Thank God for small mercies. I hope you, Mark, and Maya are doing well. 🙂
Beautiful as usual! What a lovely tribute to your brother. When I think of a hill, I think of Calvary’s hill where Jesus died. But, He came to life again, as those of us who believe in Him will do, also.
My favorite spring flowers are tulips and daffodils. We don’t have them down here in Florida. I have to buy them in the flower shop. Happy Easter!
Bonnie, it’s good to see you here since we can’t gather at church – or in a restaurant. Soon, I hope. I too grew up enjoying tulips and daffodils. A few weeks ago I bought myself some tulips, and just today CDB brought in a pot of calla lilies. 🙂
Happy Easter to you and your family too!
The tree in our background grows beautiful pink/white flowers. It’s very lovely.
Tiffany, I checked out your website and discovered that I can relate to your mantra of health, beauty, and natural living. In fact, my focus word for the year is “beauty” in all its forms like the pink/white tree blossoms you enjoy.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Do visit again! 🙂
Hi Marian, thanks for the reminder to appreciate beauty. I need to remind myself to stop and appreciate beauty all around me!