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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Clothes (11/02/12)

TITLE: How Final is a Cemetery?
By Noel Mitaxa
11/08/12
~2nd Place


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There’s something quietly final about a cemetery.

Ornate marble headstones may declare the importance of the person laid to rest beneath them, or is it to assuage the guilt of those left, to compensate for thoughtless words or actions? For who speaks ill of the dead?

Smaller polished stones jut up in regimented rows from manicured lawns: some with pictures of the lost loved one; some with plastic flowers inserted into small wide-mesh panels.

On verdant expanses of lawn you’ll find small plaques set into simple square slabs that sit flat, or at very slight angles.

Set into brick screens that are embroidered with low shrubs and flower beds are the nameplates of those whose ashes are inserted behind them.

The oblique angles of more ancient monuments, with cracked parapets and rusted rails stand in mute evidence of ghoulish vandalism; though natural ground movement or subsidence can also plead guilty to causing similar damage, without a trace of malice or selectivity.

Taking time to survey the epitaphs – or even the lifespans of those they honour – will stir thoughts of lives well-lived; or tragically cut short through violence, stupidity, suicide, childhood epidemics or through still-birth.

There’s something quietly final about a cemetery.

Most of the time…

Bethany is abuzz. Even the cemetery is stirring, as the crowd stands in this place of finality. They are silent out of respect for two weeping sisters who were trying to comfort each other in the loss of their beloved brother, grief that was now four days old but still not easing...

“Where was he when they needed him?” A sullen murmur seeps out of the anger at the thought of a good man gone too soon, but what can anyone say? How can words bring him back?

Even the sisters take turns to tell their friend, in a tearful mix of faint hope and desperate disappointment, “If you’d been here, we wouldn’t have lost him!”

Their friend is weeping too, as he briefly scans the crowd. Then, in a tone that doesn’t brook any questions, he yells: “Pull back the stone!”

“What? He’s been gone too long for that! After four days in this heat the smell will be too much!” But despite those with too much eye – or nose - for detail, a few strong brave souls put their backs to the stone while two others lever a strong length of timber into position.

Muscles strain, veins stand out on sweating arms and temples, faces flush with the effort, steady breaths become shorter, louder and more frequent, until the stone gives up its hold.

The crowd gasps as the visitor strides up to the gaping blackness and yells again: “Lazarus! Come out!”

Their stunned silence is palpable. Who could imagine that cloth scuffing in dust could be so audible? But they all hear it.

Then they see their friend shuffling so awkwardly out of the darkness back towards them and back into their lives.

Amidst their cheering, the visitor tells them: “Get him out of those grave clothes, and let him go!”

There’s something not so quietly final about that cemetery.

*********

Author’s note - How many of God’s people can relate the details of their rebirth, but they are still in their graveclothes, awaiting their arrival in heaven – without launching themselves into the freedom of a fulfilling life that nourishes those around them with the freshness of God’s grace?

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/08/12
This is a great story. You brought back many buried feeling from my youth when I lived across from a cemetery and my first job at age 12 was to mow it. In my mind I can still see the headstones and feel the feelings as I mowed past them. Then you went into the Lazarus story bringing it to life in a way many can understand. The author's note was quite intense and I think it should have been a final paragraph since many people will just skip or skim over footnotes. It's too powerful of a message to chance people missing it.
Beth LaBuff 11/08/12
What a great title! Death and the cemetery are not final to One who holds power over death. Your Lazarus story is so fitting here and your message a stunning call to take off those graveclothes! Perfect application. I've heard that if the Lord hadn't specified "Lazarus" when he said, "Lazarus, come forth" that there would have been many come out of the grave. I'm thinking on your message here again.
Randy Foncree11/11/12
I loved your take on this weeks topic. God's people don't have to be bound up, they can be free in Christ to fulfill the destiny God has for them...God bless you and thanks for sharing this...
Danielle King 11/13/12
I really like the way you've done this. Taking us first on a detailed tour through the cemetery, followed by an equally detailed experience of the parable of Lazarus. I felt that I was there, (nipping my nose.) The footnote was a sound and clear message and rounded the whole thing off perfectly. I thought perhaps it should be in the main body of the article, but then, that pesky word limit might have been a problem. To me, this is a top class entry. It's heading for my 'favourites box.'
Wilma Schlegel 11/14/12
Cemetaries are fascinating and I was fascinated to see how you'd combine it with this topic. To use the word again - 'fascinating' story. I was drawn in, not disappointed, and rewarded at the end. Thank you!
Myrna Noyes11/14/12
I like how the first and last lines tie the whole piece together, and I think the last sentence is such a perfect ending! :) Good job!
Colin Swann11/15/12
Interesting story but almost dead on the topic. (forgive the pun).

Colin (Gold Member)
Danielle King 11/15/12
CONGRATULATIONS NOEL! I knew this entry had star quality. Yippee!!!
Leola Ogle 11/15/12
Yay Noel! Congratulations! So happy to see your name on the EC list. God bless!
Loren T. Lowery11/15/12
Very happy to see this, Noel - great job, top-drawer writing. Congratulations!!!
Hiram Claudio11/15/12
Congratulations on an AWESOME job and well deserved accolades my friend!
Beth LaBuff 11/15/12
That has got to be #3!!! Congrats, Noel! I'm so pleased that this wonderful entry received an Editor's Choice award.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/15/12
Congratulations! I'm not supposed to do a happy dance but I can't remember what I did say I'd do-was it a happy snore? Congratulations my friend You done good!
Myrna Noyes11/15/12
HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS, Noel, on your E.C. and level wins for this excellent piece! WAY TO WRITE!! :D
Bea Edwards 11/15/12
Congratulations on your winning story. The contrast you posed was a clever take on the topic. Refreshing and original!
Margaret Kearley 11/15/12
My heart is still jumping with the wonder of this. I started off amazed at your so accurate 'cemetery descriptions' but not sure where you were going with respect to the topic. Then wow! To retell the story of Lazarus in such a wonderful way in this context is both unusual and thrilling. Just wonderful and many congratulations oin a very well deserved win.
Allison Egley 11/15/12
Oh, Noel, I LOVE this! I've always enjoyed Biblical fiction, and this was a fine example of it. Love it. Nice job, and congrats on 2nd place!
Ellen Carr 11/16/12
Congrats on your 2nd EC placing and 1st in Advanced. A great telling of the Lazarus story, contrasted with the dreariness of graveyards. And a challenge at the end. Well done.
CD (Camille) Swanson 11/22/12
Congrats! God Bless~
Catherine Craig 02/10/13
Great wordsmithing. Congrats.