“No one knows [Moses’] burial site to this very day.” Deuteronomy 34:6 (MSG)
In a graveyard in France is the burial plot of Jim Morrison, the charismatic, drug addicted lead singer of The Doors. When my friends travelled abroad in college, it was a favorite tourist spot. I would get pictures sent in letters of the gravesite covered with graffitti. Songs have been written about it. I’ve heard countless stories of people going to join the groups who continually sit arond the grave, hold vigil, and party to memorialize the poet and musician.
I compare that to the childhood memory of going to the cemetery before each Memorial Day with my mother and grandmother. We’d place flowers on the graves of great-grandma Daisy and my grandmother’s sister, who died at a relatively early age. When my daughter’s were small, they accompanied my mother as she continued the tradition of visiting the graves of family and placing flowers there as a Memorial.
Throughout the journey I have presided over many funerals from strangers to loved ones. I’ve watched many different ways that people handle the death of the body, how families respond to that death, and how the dead are remembered and memorialized. It’s prompted me to think about my own death and how I would like to be remembered.
While I fully understand the tradition of visiting graves and memorializing the dead, I have come to prefer the idea of cremation and the scattering of ashes in a special place. The truth of the matter is that when this journey is over and my body breathes its last, my spirit will arrive at my eternal home in heaven with Christ. My wayfaring sojourn will complete. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I don’t want loved ones visiting the burial place of my body only to have it subtly reiterate a message of death, burial, and grief. I would rather have family and loved ones gather at one of their homes to feaest on a good meal, drink good wine, share good memories, and raise their glasses to toast those memories, laugh together, and celebrate my eternal homecoming.
Reading today’s chapter, I was glad that Moses’ burial site was lost and forgotten. I can only imagine the gaudy religious spectacle it would have become by now. Because it is forgotten, the story of Moses can live in my mind free from the struggle of idolization that occurs when burial plots become religious shrines.