My husband and I paid our respects to the brother of one of our family members. He was a young man who no one thought would have left this world so soon. I never met this man, but I knew many of my relatives were deeply saddened by their loss; and although I never knew him, I felt the pain and sorrow for their loss.
While we sat in church, listening to the booming voice of the priest and the beautiful voice of the singer, I was brought to tears by the words that were spoken. At some point during the service, the priest asked God to show his face to us. I felt this oddly familiar; however, I did not make it a habit to make this request of God. I thought, “Perhaps I should start asking Him to show His face.”
After the service, we followed the caravan of vehicles over to the gravesite. As we took our places, I looked up to see hundreds of birds swarming right above the site where we stood. They seemed to be making a circle or figure eight. For me, this site is one I symbolize more than any other for God; when I am watching a flock of birds swimming in the sky. I know this sight happens often, but I think that keeps me closer, and more often, to God.
It was then that a man approached and started to tell the story of a young man who went to Heaven. I learned that the man we were respecting was an iron worker…and this story was also about an iron worker. This moment would not have been so unusual, had it not hit so close to home. It was in that very moment that I started to put the pieces together.
The story was about about an iron worker, the man we were saying goodbye to was an iron worker, and many of the men surrounding me in that moment were iron workers…including my husband. If that wasn’t enough, I realized that my grandson’s young father, who we buried only a few weeks before, was also an iron worker. I knew my grandson would like this story.
Soon, the man finished his story, we said our goodbyes to the man who passed, and we went down the street to gather for some food and prayer. It was then that the birds simply flew away.
As we walked through the cemetery grounds, we came upon an area of graves called “Infants Only.” I stood there thinking of all the young babies who had left this world way too soon. I thought of the parents who must have grieved so. Looking at the dates, I realized some were only moments old, while others lived only months before leaving. How sad for their families.
Later, I approached the story-telling man so I could tell him how much I enjoyed his story. I wanted to know who wrote it so I could look it up and share it with my grandson. “I did…this morning,” he said.
The end of this journey takes us to the widow; the woman who is left to pick up all the pieces. During the two times we approached her…to console her in her time of need…she ended up saying things that consoled us. She told us that her husband left her many gifts, but that there was one special gift he gave her. He showed her that life didn’t need to be that hard. She said, “He taught me that.” What a beautiful gift to give.
We were emotionally drained by the day, but neither of us would have missed being there. The spiritual connections that we were given was immeasurable. Imagine…attending a funeral to support someone, but leaving with more support than you gave. That’s how life works sometimes.
Later, I learned that I would connect with this story-telling man and his editor, in hopes of getting his book off to a good start. Just simple conversation to help one person in their journey of writing.
I find it so interesting how intertwined we are at one time or another; the connection we make. First, I’m surrounded by iron workers; unaware of their bond. Next, I meet the one person who told a story, which might help a young child with their own grief. Still later, I find I have something to offer in return…my writing skills. My only hope is that the advice I share helps him achieve success in his journey.
When we consider how easily we can bend, mold, or unravel; based on how we treat each other, isn’t it worth the effort to show kindness and respect to each other? My motto…never burn any bridges, because you never know where they might lead you. This is not to say that you are kind in case you need or want something from a person, but that you are connected in some way and you will miss out on a loving or spiritual connection.
The Iron Worker Who Made His Way Home ~ Reverend Fuzzy Lake
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