From Amy Junor
Pastor – GRACE Faith Community
Members of the GRACE Faith Community attended a remembrance service at Greendale Uniting Church (not far outside Dalton). The congregation of Greendale have a triennial tradition of hosting this service and several community members who are not regular worshippers at the site attend for this time of reflection.
The afternoon sun caught the dust blown up from the road by our cars as we approached the tiny church in the middle of a field.
You can’t even find Greendale Uniting Church on Google Maps; it is listed as ‘Greendale Cemetery’.
Every few years, we are told, this event is held on site, and people gather to remember those who came before, those we miss, and even some who have no living relatives to visit.
There were numbers north of 40 people, sitting in the tin shed or wandering to read the headstones by the remaining daylight.
Rolling hills framed a scene where two spiritually significant things mingled - the peaceful serenity of well-maintained cemetery grounds, and the wafting aroma of onions meeting sausages on a barbecue.
We ate, we chattered and then spent a reflective service connecting with our purpose for gathering.
The graves outside, some established in the 1800’s, waited patiently as we shared.
We thought about those who had come before, recalling days when the roads were rougher and whichever Methodist minister was on the Crookwell circuit may have had to camp in the paddock after an evening service like this one.
We spoke about loss.
We missed people.
We giggled at fond memories.
A tear or two quietly escaped into paper towel hastily stashed in a sleeve.
We walked out to the colourful assertions of the evening sky.
400 electric candles were lit and flickering in cups of sand, ready to distribute over the graves, heavily anchored against the strong winds of the paddock.
Some people tended to the graves of their own loved ones - among them a tiny grave for a child whose siblings were present to clean and prepare the grave and place candles.
Some of us placed candles remembering those we miss, although they are not buried at the site.
Recent losses or those before our earliest memories.
Grandparents, mothers, fathers, friends, children.
People called to one another across the field, all of us working together to make sure that no memorial, grand or humble, was left in the dark on this night.
Cups of tea and sweet things were shared as the last rays of sunshine dimmed to night, and the last candles were placed.
We stood shoulder to shoulder in silence for a while, the constellations above us becoming brighter as the constellation of candles around us flickered warm reflections onto shiny polished granite - with words of love and trust in God engraved in beautiful lettering.
We left with the slow trickle of people heading home to warmer beds, lounge rooms and other responsibilities.
Headlights picking up the insects as they came out for the evening’s song.
We left moved, fed (in more ways than one), and remembering.