From the moment I laid eyes on this tablet sometime after seven o' clock this morning, I knew I wanted to blog about it. And, I straightway imagined it as an image to be included. So, I remained after the service - my friend, Debbie, waited patiently - to take a few photos. Even though most of the congregants had filed out, I tried to be as reverent, discreet and non-touristy as possible. I felt more and more at ease as I went on to take a few of the sanctuary. The St. George Parish Church in Barbados is a beautiful building. It's the oldest ecclesiastical building on the island - architecture less Gothic; more Georgian (via a little Google search).
The line that stood out for me then, and got stuck in my head after, is this one:
"And give her husband just reason to deplore the loss of the greatest of God's blessings; a Christian wife."
For several reasons, I wouldn't, couldn't let it go:
THE USE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Unless we indulge in a certain genre of writing, we just don't see the English language being written in such a beautiful and eloquent way these days. True, I don't expect the daily news to sound like an obituary - though, sometimes, it does come close. However, over time, much eloquence has been lost. Perhaps it's because of the literature to which I was exposed growing up. The likes of Milton, Dickens, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wilde, Lawrence accompanied me throughout my high school and University years. The language was more complex, and within its complexity, it carried a certain beauty. Perhaps it was the challenge of unearthing the meaning of the likes of, "If music be the food of love, play on," and the subsequent reward in being singled out by my third form (Grade 9) teacher to explain to the rest of the class that "he was in need of love." Whatever the reason I found it enchanting, they had a way with words. This tablet - and, especially that line - brought me back to that delightful time.
Charles Darling suffered the loss of his wife, Anne, shortly after her twenty-fourth birthday. Having no knowledge of the story behind all this, and, not wanting to do any deep research for this particular post, I let myself be satisfied with what was provided. She was such a young woman; perhaps they were a young couple. There was no info to indicate for how long they had been married. However, the latter section of the tablet made me wonder...
THE DOUBLE LOSS
Charles Darling suffered another loss just about a month after - that of his twenty-one month old son. I'm thinking that the Darlings' marriage might have been under three years old. A child would've come soon after marriage, back then.
It's not that I picked a tablet and decided to dote on it. I think, for the first time, after many instances of reading tombstones and tablets and being fascinated by the dates (they were born how long ago???) I was genuinely interested in how these persons, generations ago, expressed their sorrow. I think that line - wouldn't it have been penned by Charles Darling? - helped draw me in.
And, in a really warped way, I drew some small comfort in the fact that, no matter the epoch or generation or historical age, some things have not changed. Among them, our emotions. The way we express them? Maybe. But, sorrow is sorrow and joy is joy, whether it's 1837 or 2012.
Of course, as at other times when faced with the details, or a summary, of death, who can walk away without thinking for a moment of his/her own mortality? And, if time goes until then, one hundred and seventy-five years from this, who will cast a second glance at the tombstone - or tablet - erected in memory of me? Will anyone be moved by it? Will it cause them to engage in a bit of reflection; introspection? Will it cause them to think, as I did for a second, about their own fleeting mortality, and where they'll spend eternity? Then again, if it's a tombstone, the thing mightn't be legible by then anyway!
I'm not too hung up on death. It's more the dying I think about - like many others, I'd rather not suffer in pain while I'm departing this weary sod. But, it's the dying without Christ that freaks me out. My Christianity is not just a "fire insurance". It's a cherished relationship with Jesus Christ. But, dying with Him does mean that I get to spend eternity with him in heaven. Just sayin'.
Through His death and resurrection I have hope of my own resurrection and eternal life. Booyah! *Ahem* I mean, and that is wonderful! You gotta believe in something - and I believe in this.