Time. Time. What is time?
God has spoken in Scripture as to time.
For everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
There is also a time like this. I am at Zion Cemetery in Iola, Texas. I sit in my wheelchair under the limestone pavilion. I am surrounded by the graves of Germans and Irish folk who settled here in 1839. Relatives of those who died at the Alamo. Headstones of boys killed in the Civil War. Wives who survived three husbands. Children who died as infants.
Today is the time to bury a beautiful red-headed, brilliant, and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and educator. This child of God never rested in her service to God. For 98 years in her life since her birth in Iola, she treasured life. Her life was long in years and deep in love.
Who is the beautiful red-headed woman in the coffin under the spray of greenery and white roses? The one who’s time to die had come? My Aunt, Virginia Lee Woodward Emmott.
Before the breath of God left Aunt Virginia’s body, she used every bit of time, and every gift of love God gave her. From her baby cry on November 8, 1924, until the day her time on earth ended on July 19, 2023, she earned her angel wings. Graduated from high school at age 16. Attended Baylor at 17. Earned a Master of Education. Served as Principal at T. H. Rogers Junior High. Administrator at the Houston Community College Northwest Campus. A member of Fairbanks Baptist Church for 75 years. Although Aunt Virginia accomplished amazing things, she could not stop time from ticking away. Nor can we.
As my cousin, Pastor Andy Morris, was about to commend Aunt Virginia’s spirit to sail into the arms of God, I looked down. I saw another red-headed beauty. The Pastor’s three-year-old daughter, Holli. She is innocent. Fair skinned. Oblivious to death. To those mourning near her.
Holli is not the least concerned in the solemnity of this occasion. Holli is only interested in the now. In this moment in time. Her time. In the sand.
In an epiphany I felt that God was writing this prayer for me. For as I stared at the death of the aunt I loved, I saw life. Another child of God like Aunt Virginia. I witnessed how Holli was making use of her time at the Iola Cemetery. Posed as a Norman Rockwell girl, Holli she sat in her dress on the edge of the concrete slab of the pavilion.
Holli, with her tiny hand, gathered a palm full of sand from the ground. Then, Holli carefully lifted her hand in the air and slowly released the sand from her fingers. She intently watched the grains of sand fall from one hand to the other below.
Holli caught some grains of sand. Others fell to the earth. No matter how hard Holli tried to catch all the grains of sand, she could not. Little Holli was making the best use of her time at Aunt Virginia’s burial today. In her long-life Aunt Virginia made the best use of the time God gave her too.
I know that one day, as with my Aunt Virginia, earthly time will run out for you, for me, for Holli. Time is precious. Time on earth ends. The sands of time slip through all our hands. But God’s love is another thing.
As I watched little Holli making use of her time playing with the sand, I heard Andy saying the words committing Aunt Virginia’s body to the ground. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Andy’s commendation was a prayer for Virginia’s Resurrection to eternal life. In her time today, Andy’s redheaded daughter, Holli, was the prayer’s Amen.
Let us pray.
Dear God, I thank You for the gift of life and my time on earth.
God, in prayer may I be ever mindful that time on earth is precious and fleeting. Please help me use my time to live as fully and love as deeply as I can.
God, I thank You for loving me and transforming my human death into eternal life with You in Heaven. Amen.
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Ann Boland, Jack’s Publicist