Running With Woodchucks in a Graveyard

Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City, NY
Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City, NY

As I ran through the graveyard, I made up little stories about those folks lying in the ground.  In my mind, they were honorable people who left behind legacies of love, faith and charity.  It was a fun thing to do, in a way, and the soft evening light on the fall foliage made such happy thoughts easy to conjure.  I might have been right or wrong about those departed souls, but my extemporaneous stories about them reminded me of one immutable fact:  A holy life is characterized by intentional compassion.


Dear Alexandria and Mary Ellen,

So, I went on my run this afternoon.   A significant portion of my route was through a very pretty cemetery.  I made three discoveries on my run:

First, the Southern Tier of New York has hills─ lots and lots of hills. They go up. They go down.  They do both of these things endlessly.  My calves now hate me.

Second, woodchucks love cemeteries. I’m glad to know that, for some damn reason.

And third, as I ran past a lot of people who have gone to their eternal rest, it occurred to me that every one of those folks made a mark on someone else’s life. Good or bad, even if only a breath or two was drawn, every life lived impacted another person’s experience on Earth.  As you are reading this, you must realize that you are fortunate enough to have a choice in how you impact the lives around you. But, please understand that you often don’t get to change the impact you have had once you have spoken or acted. The truth is, there are no take backs.  Especially with your words─ once they are uttered, the damage may be done.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

 ─Proverbs 12:15

As I ran the final leg of my four miles, I made up little stories about those folks lying in the ground.  In my mind, they were honorable people who left behind legacies of love, faith and charity.  It was a fun thing to do, in a way, and the soft evening light on the fall foliage made such happy thoughts easy to conjure.  I might have been right or wrong about those departed souls, but my extemporaneous stories about them reminded me of one immutable fact:  A holy life is characterized by intentional compassion.

You girls will have an impact on the world.  I pray that what you leave behind will be a reflection of the love that you showed to others.  I pray, but somehow doubt, that my legacy will be likewise.

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