Rylstone Graves

Gazing out impassively from the masonry of Rylstone Church are bishops and kings. Grand monuments and stones are found in God’s acre, commemorating those whose estates could bear the expense. Yet I was moved by one of its simpler monuments, dedicated to Sarah Hebdin, who died in 1775, aged only 23.

So young! Although life expectancy was much shorter then, she was still taken in the flower of youth. All graves are tragedies, for nearly everyone is mourned by someone. All vouch for God’s warning in Eden to those who ate the fruit: "you shall surely die". If only Mother Eve could have seen the vast swathes of land dedicated to storing her children's corpses. Another grave in that place had written upon it one of those wonderful little ditties offering warning to the living:

Remember death as you pass by;

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you must be,

Prepare yourself to follow me.

Much as I like the sentiment, I cannot agree. Joseph Hudson, whose thoughts we read, died in 1829. We haven't just a bleak grave to face, a pallid venture into nothingness. Our Christ conquered death and bore Adam’s curse. If Hudson is in hell, there you need not go. If he is in heaven, there you may now enter. Either way, your destiny is more than a hole in the ground: ‘Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat’, to quote The Hobbit

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” (John 13:36, NKJV)