"And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place…."
Genesis 23: 19-20
King James Version
"A Dead Nose Can't Smell a Rose"
"When I am dead, sing no sad songs for me."
How can I honor those who are living now rather than after they are gone?
"Seldom comes glory until a man (or woman) is dead."
"(She) who is dead and gone honor with remembrance, not with tears."
It has been nearly 22 years since my father died and yet in many ways it seems like only yesterday. When I see videos or hear tapes of him speaking it is as though time has stood still. I'm certain each of you has also lost someone near and dear, and the pain of their loss, while eased slightly with time, never subsides for those we hold in our hearts.
When my father died so suddenly, my mother was in her mid-fifties and certainly considered by most people to be a very young widow. You can probably guess what I'm going to say next for it seemed that before the casket holding my precious father was lowered into the ground, well-meaning busy bodies started trying to pair my mom up with some eligible gentlemen they felt could cure her loneliness. The fact was, the person my mom missed was my father and 22 years later no one has come along who has filled the void in her life. As she has said repeatedly, I am a one man –woman. She met my father when he was just twelve years old. And while as youngsters they had little interest in each other, by the time they became young adults, they knew they were meant to be together forever.
Now please don't get me wrong, if my mother had found a person to marry after Daddy's death, if the individual loved the Lord and my mother, I would have been thrilled for her. But to be honest, no one would or could ever take Daddy's place in our family.
And right in Genesis 24-26, I find that I am not alone in feeling the way I do.
We find in Genesis 23: 1 that Sarah died when she was 127-years-old. In fact, the entire Chapter 23 of Genesis is a narrative regarding the great effort Abraham took to purchase land for Sarah's burial place. One entire chapter of the Bible is dedicated to his endeavor. And I ask, "Why?" Well, I believe there are two reasons. First, Abraham wanted to show respect to Sarah's life and memory. During her lifetime, there were times that Abraham had not been the husband he should have. But as time passed, we see Abraham drawing closer to his wife and son and especially to his God. We find him listening to God. And this unity with his Heavenly Father helped unify him with his earthly family. This lesson shouldn't be lost on you and me whether male or female. The closer we are brought into unity with Heaven, the closer our unity will be with those we love on earth. It is a natural cause and effect.
The second reason I believe attention is brought to Sarah's burial is that it mattered to the generations that followed, especially Sarah's son Isaac.
I know it mattered to me where my dear father's body was laid. I personally picked out the spot at my family's' request. Daddy's burial place is on a high grassy knoll overlooking a valley and mountains. After my dad's death, on Friday afternoons, at the end of the work week, for months, I would go at sunset to sit on a rock bench by that blessed and holy spot where, as the Bible tells us, my father rests until that great reunion day when as the Apostle Paul reminds us in I Thessalonians 4: 16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
Think of the generations that followed after Sarah, and still to this day pass by the land and the cave where the family's tender hands laid the body of their wife and mother.
Abraham had learned that honoring Sarah, the gift given to him by God, was the only way to insure that joy and harmony in his home were not destroyed. God gave Abraham and Sarah and other couples a gift which can be a foretaste of heavenly unity down on this earth.
And as we shall see in a few days, Isaac, the Bible tells us, brought his wife Rebekah to his own mother's tent where she "comforted" Isaac after his mother's death.
There's a big lesson for us in this Scriptural passage. It is the lesson that is found in a quote shared with me several weeks ago: "Dead noses can't smell roses."
When my mother-in-law was battling the very early stages of dementia, she loved for my husband, Jim, to take her out to the garden for a walk. When her health faltered and getting around wasn't as easy, Jim had a fresh bouquet of flowers delivered to his mother every week until she died. It was one of the highlights of her week, and something that even her failing memory didn't forget. As Jim said to me, "I want her to see the flowers now rather than when it doesn't matter anymore."
Why not take a moment today to honor someone you care about? Tell them now. Send a rose while they can still smell it!
"Safe where I cannot lie yet,
Safe where I hope to lie to,
Safe from the fume and fret;
You, and you,
Whom I never forget.
Safe from the frost and snow,
Safe from the storm and the sun,
Safe where the seeds wait to grow
One by one
And to come back in blow."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus