A Memorial to My Dad

Today I'm posting on my blog twice.  This one is a memorial to my dad.

You are probably aware that my dad was cremated after his death in January of this year.  This is not something most Latinos, Catholics, or Muslims do very much, but it is very common in Europe where land is at a premium and many cemeteries are full.  It is becoming more common in the US although I'm not sure it is the most common form of burial yet.

Anyway, it was dad's wish to be cremated.  He was more concerned about cost and not burdening his family with the excessive funeral expenses that our government requires than anything else.  But he may well have had environmental and space concerns on his mind.  There is no plot in a cemetery and no stone to remember him by.  These aren't important.  His body will one day rise again, anyway, whatever form of decay or deterioration it is in. 

Dad's ashes were buried behind the church in Manchester, CT, where he had long served as pastor of missions and mentoring and as part of the care team.  There is a playground back there and a nice little tree.  The day after the memorial service we put his ashes in a hole next to the tree.  It was a windy, cold, bright day, but it wasn't very pretty in the middle of winter.  

Mom had the bright idea of erecting a memorial to dad over the site of his burial.  But this is no gravestone.  It is a bench.  And it is really comfortable.  Inscribed on the bacak of the bench is Psalm 23.6: 
'Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.'

There is no inscription on the bench marking it as the place of dad's burial.  We want people to move beyond dad and remember the God he served.  We want this to be a place of rest and reflection, a place where people can stop for a minute and think about God's goodness and mercy.  Here are some of the family members around the bench.

We dedicated the bench with a few friends, family, and church staff on Thursday evening, July 8, on a beautiful, sunny day.  The trees spread their branches over the bench and gave it shade.  The scenery is lush and beautiful.  May all who pass this way find God and find rest in Him. 

A Day Off

In our busy lives, it's often hard to squeeze in a vacation or even find a day off.  That's why it's nice when our friend Mark offers to take us sailing on Long Island Sound, off the coast of Connecticut.  We get a real day off.  Last week we managed to squeeze a day in between a dedication of a memorial bench for my dad (July 8) and a family wedding (July 10) to get down to the sound to catch some wind and some waves. 

Mark's boat isn't large like some huge yachts we saw, but it was so nice to get away from the pressure and difficulties of life and simply relax.  The day was warm and sunny, so even though the breeze wasn't strong, we managed to get in some real sailing.  I like to hold the tiller and steer the boat, but I'm not an expert sailor, just a green first mate.


Unfortunately, Daniel and Suzanne couldn't be with us this time as they had work.  We missed them, but we got to see something we had not seen on previous trips: seals basking on Fisher's Island just across the inlet from Mystic.  This may be the best-kept secret on Long Island Sound.  Normally, they swim north by this time of year, but there they were.

Another highlight was rounding the small rocky outcrop with a pretty lighthouse.  The lighthouse used to be inhabited, but now it is automated and emits a rather jarring 'ping'...'ping' every few minutes to warn ships away.


All in all, it was a good day. Thanks, Mark.


Back Home

I'm back in the US after 11 long weeks in England.  My time there was good, and I got a great head start on my studies.  There are definitely some things I did not like about England (sorry to all my English friends):
1.  It was cold.  Temperatures never got up to 30 C (86 F) and most days it didn't even get to 21 C (70 F).  Temperatures below 70 F are against my body's religion.  I don't know how the Enlgish can live.  It's not just the outside temperature, either. It's the temperature inside.  There isn't much heat in homes!  And people like to have a window open when it's 10 C (50 F outside).  I kept closing windows! Almost never in my time did I wear less than three layers inside or out.  Many times I wore five layers with gloves and a hat--even inside.
2.  Many days were raw and rainy.  I guess that's what you get when you live on an island in the far north.  I'll have to admit that the beautiful days made up for it.  England is a beautiful country (the silver lining from the cloudy days).
3.  While I like bright sunshine while it is day, I'm like it dark at night and don't sleep well if there's too much light.  Of course, with the sun rising at 4 a.m. and setting at 10 p.m., this doesn't leave much room for night.  When it gets light, my body wakes up.  Needless to say, I didn't get enough sleep.  In addition, there was a bright streetlight outside our room, and we didn't have any curtains or shades to block it out.  It really bothered me.  I finally resorted to wearing those masks they give you on the plane to block out light.  
4.  Things seem much smaller and more crowded.  In a store, the shelves don't have enough room between them for two people to pass each other.  Houses are much closer together and rooms smaller.  It's hard to pass people on narrow sidewalks.  So many people and bicycles crowd the paths in the countryside that it's hard to get in a decent run. I know that England is much more densely populated than the US and I did get to see some country.  But I like wide open spaces like we have in many places in the US and in Africa.
5.  I didn't know many people in England, and it was very lonely. 

Lest you think that I really hated England, let me hasten to say that it wasn't all bad.  Here are some things I really like:
1.  I already mentioned that it's a beautiful country.  The green countryside is almost unmatched.
2.  I got to roam in the meadows with cows and horses.  I felt like I was back in Africa.
3.  The history was amazing. I couldn't believe I was walking amongst 500-year-old buildings.
4.  We got to see some old friends, one of whom lives in Oxford.
5.  We found a nice church in which we felt welcome. 
6.  I got to do some new things I had never done before (punting; visiting Oxford University; walking in the footsteps of such great men as William Carey, John Bunyan, William Cowper, and John Newton; reading in the Bodleaian).  I love adventures.

Still, there's no place like home, wherever that is.  

I'll be starting a new adventure in a month. It seems like I'm starting a new adventure every month.