Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'll Fly Away

I drove seven miles from my house - past neighborhoods that now reside where acres of beautiful farm land used to be.  I pulled off the shoulder of the narrow road onto the freshly paved parking lot of a little, white church.  Even being small in size, the steeple appeared to easily reach toward Heaven.

I sat in my car for a moment and looked behind the church.  I saw concrete tables sitting underneath a tin roof pavilion and wondered how many meals had been shared there over the years.

Then I thought about the men who spent their Saturday afternoons working to build this church.  I imagined the bake sales or spaghetti suppers that the women used to raise money for supplies.  I could hear the laughter of young children as they played in a nearby field watching their Dads work with hammers and saws - turning piles of plywood into a place of worship.

Among them was my Great Aunt Sara.  And today, we said goodbye.

Sara was the oldest charter member of this church, which was established in 1954, and originally held services in the basement of her home.

I listened to the pastors and family members sharing kind words about Aunt Sara.  Their hands were shaking like leaves on the tall trees in front of the church as the cold February wind blew past.  I teared up when they paused to swallow the sorrow that was filling up their throat.

As the scripture was read, I saw the congregation shaking their heads in agreement because every word perfectly described Aunt Sara.

As I became lost in the gospel quartet singing I'll Fly Away, I wondered how people had been saved on those carpet-covered steps at the foot of the alter.  I wondered how many children had attended Vacation Bible School and learned about Moses or John the Baptist or the Ten Commandments.  I wondered how many adults had been taught by Sara's example.

Sara always had sweet tea in the refrigerator, cornbread in the oven and soup beans on the stove top.  She  kept the porch light on just in case you wanted to visit.  Day or night, you could stop by her house for good food and good conversation.  You always left  full in every sense of the word.

A family member spoke about how Sara was given a last name by birth - a good name - the same name that I was given by birth.  And he talked about the new name that she was given in Heaven because of her good deeds on Earth.

Toward the end of the service, I looked to my right and noticed the stained glass window.  The simple black font underneath said that it was in honor of Sara and her family.  Today, the afternoon sunlight illuminated the bright colors in her stained glass window as we honored her again.  

During the seven mile drive back home, I couldn't help but wonder what words will be said about me at my funeral.  I want to be remembered for more than just a nice girl who always had a funny joke or story.  I want to be remembered as someone more like my Great Aunt Sara.  I want for both of our last names to be the same.

So thank you, Aunt Sara, for reminding us who we want to be.  Well done, good and faithful servant.