Away from the mourners gathered around the gravesite and beneath the full and greened canopy of a chestnut, Adele whispered to her best friend. “Do you feel at all mournful, Peggy?”
And, as best as any twelve year-old who had just lost a distant and matronly aunt answered back. “I know I should feel something, Adie, but I hardly knew her.” She glanced at the gravesite. “Do you think that Aunt Molly would be angry that I was not sorrowful at her funeral?”
Adele, who had always wished for a more romantic name than Adele, responded thoughtfully, “If your Aunt Molly is truly in heaven as the preacher says she is - singing with the angels - then I don’t think it would bother her much at all.”
“Oh, Adie, I do hope you are right. And the preacher did say she was a good person, so she must be in heaven.” She sighed, her black bonnet with white lace bobbing up and down with her hopeful agreement. “But how he knew she was a good person, I’ll never know. He knew her less than me.”
“Your father must have told him; they were brother and sister after all.”
“I suppose, but if father hadn’t said anything, what do you think would have happened to her soul? It is such a frightening thing to think about.”
Adele took her hand. “You mustn’t think such thoughts, dear friend. Besides, if only what someone says countenances a thing as being true, what would become of any of us? Tillie Harris is always saying how much she loves cabbage, but I can’t abide the taste.” And, in her youthful virtue concluded: “Truth, it seems must be a matter of personal toleration.”
“Possibly, but then how is one to know the goodness of another if they don’t know them?” Her face became forlorn with perplexity as most faces are wont to do to at funerals with discussion such as theirs.
A robin twittered in the branches above their heads, momentarily distracting them. “Adie,” Peggy continued in a solemn whisper, “do you think what we say matters not at all, but rather what God sees?”
“The preacher says that God sees our heart.”
Peggy flushed. “Oh dear, my heart is not always pure. I vow I try to keep it good – I earnestly do - but sometimes it seems impossible. What if a person were to die on a day when their hearts weren’t especially good? What if that happened to dear Aunt Molly?”
“My father says that a day for God is like a thousand years, so I guess a person must have a whole lifetime for God to see his heart. I truly hope that’s true.”
Peggy nodded, considering this. “But surely there must be some measure for others to agree to what God sees. The preacher called Aunt Molly good because of what father told him. Do you think there was something else? Otherwise the preacher would be less than truthful.”
“This is such a dreadful thing to consider, but we must if we’re ever to be certain your dear Aunt Molly’s soul is at rest – and ours too, when the time comes. Try to think hard; what do you remember best about your aunt?”
“When I was five we visited her; and I remember her lovely flower garden. She took my hand and walked me through it. I remember her voice being sweet, like the robin just trilling above us. She told me God could be found in gardens if we but look. I explained I hated the bugs. She laughed, saying she disliked them, too but learned to be watchful of them so they didn’t spoil her time with God. And, that I must learn to do the same.”
“And, did you?”
Peggy slowly nodded, reflecting. She smiled, “I’d almost forgotten that walk, but I believe I did. And you know, Adie, I think that anyone who can see God in the most ordinary things of life must have the purest heart of all, don’t you?”
“I do. And I think teaching you to guard against the bugs to not ruin your seeing God was a very wise thing. Father always says that wisdom is from God, so I believe Aunt Molly had a very good heart, indeed.”
And so beneath the greened chestnut tree sweetened with the brief trilling of a robin; they ended their conjecture - trusting Aunt Molly’s soul to truly be in heaven.
And it was.
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