Windswept. Laura Lee shivered in the late afternoon chill. How much longer would Jack be? Surely it did not need four hours to replace a broken headlamp? Her eyes scanned the hillside roads. Empty. Digging into her pockets in search of warmth her fingers encountered her useless cell phone – fully charged but with no connection to the outside world.
Leaving the cemetery she sought the protection of the bus shelter at the gate, finding little comfort although it broke the force of the growing wind. The sun rimmed the mountain behind the village briefly before sliding out of sight. The grey sea below the roadway murmured and shushed restlessly. Gulls mewed their way to bed.
Laura’s stomach growled. It had been a long afternoon without the comfort of a cup of coffee. But in review it had been worth it. The shoes of her mind wandered the paths again, the names on the headstones echoing the names of streets and buildings; the little scraps of local history found in odd corners. Again she wondered about the many small plots of similar date: was there an epidemic – perhaps a local disaster – that swept so many children away more than a hundred years ago?
While many of the headstones had only a name and a date, several indicated a story of the life of the person who lay below the stone. There were a group of young men who gave their lives in wartime. A lad who drowned while surfing, doing what he best loved to do: his headstone now faced the restless waves. There was another, a little girl, just four years old, now “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” The shoes of her mind stopped walking and Laura stood before the stone.
“Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” Laura wondered what had taken this little one, Bethann Rogers, from the safety of the arms of father or mother. There was no other headstone bearing the name of Rogers.
Was it only in death that it was possible to be “Safe in the Arms of Jesus?” Laura’s mind rejected the question as soon as it arose. The words came unbidden: “Only believe,” and believing is a matter of life and living. The crucial point being what you believed. The shoes of Laura’s mind left the cemetery paths to wander through the maze of the words of Scripture. Laura in the bus shelter leaned back and closed her eyes, hugging herself for warmth.
She saw herself a little girl, counting on her fingers the letters of the words: J E S U S S A V E S. It would be many years before the full truth of that simple statement made a final impact in her life. But the foundation was laid.
The next impact was in the reading of a classic story during her school days, in which a character quoted: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Searing words, searching words. Jesus, the resurrection and the life.... Only believe – he that believes .... Jesus saves .... Safe in the arms of Jesus ....
Laura in the bus shelter relaxed while the day darkened and the village lights came on. Here Jack found her, half asleep and smiling through memories of ways walked in the belief of her salvation and growing knowledge of Jesus; of being safe in the arms of Jesus in this life and sure of the same safety after death. She yawned as Jack folded her cardigan around her shivering shoulders while apologising for being so long away.
As they walked to the car, now with two headlamps brightly beaming, she glanced up at the cemetery sign. Laura chuckled, drawing Jack’s attention to the name on the board. He smiled, “Very apt!” as he tightened his arm around her shoulders, “But not yet.”
“Day’s End Cemetery.”
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