There we stood bracing ourselves against the cold wind. It was cloudy, it was icy, the wind was blowing hard, it was not a pleasant day. The director said to me, "Peter, I think we should get started now."
There were three of us there, myself, the funeral director and the man we were placing in the grave. I did not know who the man in the casket was, the funeral director did not know who the man was either - I mean we had a first name, and we had a body, but that is all we had. We weren’t even sure the name we had was the man’s real name.
I don’t know the whole story, but I do know that he was found alone in a field just outside of town. There didn’t appear to be any foul play, he was one of those people who drifted in and out of town. The police called the funeral director and the funeral director called me, "Peter, can you help me with another one."
No one came forward to claim this man, no one made last arrangements with the mortuary, no one came to say their last good-byes, no one.
I have to say, I really respected this particular funeral director. He was only one in town willing to put together a funeral for the very poor and pay for it himself. He did this so often, sometimes I wondered how he stayed afloat. And so together we would conspire to do one final act - even if no one else cared.
So, there we were, our backs to the icy wind, standing over an open grave, looking at the casket of a man we didn’t know. What in the world do you say at a time like this? What is it that can be said to do this man justice? Who was this man? Where was his family? Who did he love? Did he have faith? Why are we all alone?
I did my best to say what needed to be said and we did what we could to give this man a decent burial. But, I tell you, the walk back through the cemetery icy that day was avery lonely walk.
The truth is, we all will go before God alone.
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