Burial customs and practices have changed a good bit over time. There once was a time when the family and close friends or neighbors dug the grave of a loved one, or the members of that person's church. Who else was there to do it? And then as cemeteries began to replace graveyards, a graveyard being associated with a church and a cemetery being simply a place to buy plots and bury folks, we began to leave it up to the cemeteries and the funeral home to dig the graves.
But several years ago, the members of the Chapel of the Cross realized they were missing out on a part of the community of believers they were striving to be by allowing some third party to perform this necessary duty for their members. So, they instituted this tradition that the church body performs in their own graveyard at the Chapel, of pitching in and digging the grave for a departed church member. And the people who perform this duty are like you and I, who gladly do for free what no amount of money could hire them to do.
"The people that are out here digging are lawyers, bankers, you know, just professional people. You could never go to them and say, hey. Could I get you to dig me a grave?" said Bud Phelps.
Bud Phelps there has been the chairman of the burial committee at The Chapel of the Cross, and says taking a turn in the grave and digging reinforces the finality of life, and the hope of the future.
"Well for me personally it really drives home the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's an extremely moving event. And when you get in there, all of a sudden your mortality hits you in the face," said Phelps.
Family members take part, too. This grave being dug is for Logan Lolly's grandmother. He has taken a turn with his shovel.
"I think my grandmother is watching me right now and she's probably proud of me," said Lolly.
This particular grave went pretty quickly. It only took about five hours to dig. And when it is completes, priest Austin Johnson blesses the grave, and all of the diggers pass a bottle of Macallan Scotch around then pour the remainder of it in the grave in the shape of a cross. Then go home and get cleaned up, reflecting on the act of servitude they've just performed, making an impersonal act about as personal as you can get it.
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:31 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:31:22 GMT
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