Today, Janet and I had our interviews for what is called Global Entry, a new program for frequent fliers that allows its members to go through expedited security at airports and to fast track their return to the United States through customs. I first heard of the program from American Express and then noticed that when I travel to Dallas, the airport has signs up all over the place that announce that they accept TSA Pre-Check, one of the programs that Global Entry works in concert with.
Janet and I filled out the online applications over the summer and several days later were advised that we had been preliminarily accepted into the program, pending the outcome of personal interviews conducted at a location that housed Global Entry personnel. That meant Chicago, at O’Hare Airport, as they don’t have an office in Indy, So today was the day we made the trip for our interviews, months after they were scheduled. Apparently, it’s a popular program.
We left Carmel this morning and arrived at O’Hare, making our way to the International Terminal 5 where the Global Entry offices are located. We were told that it was next to the McDonald’s so we followed the smell of burgers and sure enough, we found it. We arrived early and so we decided to go in and see if we could, by chance, get in early. It turns out that several people had not shown up for their interviews so we were escorted right in, at least 2 hours ahead of our interview times.
All went well and the rest of the story is unremarkable, but during Janet’s interview, I had this nagging feeling that if we got done in time, we should go past the cemetary where my parents are buried. After we were all done, we checked the map and found that we were less than 20 minutes from Ridgewood, the place where several members of my family are buried.
We made the trip and I entered the administration building to find out the location of the family graves. After all, Dad died in 1978, and I was only back once until Mom’s funeral in 1998. I haven’t been back since then, and as I am writing this, I realize that I am throwing around decades of time like they were mere days, not significant portions of my life.
I found my grandparents’ graves easily enough, but then couldn’t locate the Toussaint monument, a large, elliptical, brown stone monument that required the purchase of 8 graves to even be allowed to be erected. I knew it was there, but where? I remember seeing it from the road back when we visited after it was put up after Dad’s burial. It cost Mom a small fortune back in 1978, so it wasn’t like I would miss it – it’s more than 7 feet tall.
But today, it was nowhere to be found. So I got out of the car and walked the whole section. Sure enough, hidden between two huge arborvitae trees, the family monument stood tall, just like I remember it, with a rose carved in the middle of each side and the large TOUSSAINT name carved into the base on both front and back. Thirty five years later those small little trees we planted have turned into monster bushes that are overgrown and completely obliterate everything around them.
My mind raced back to the day of my father’s funeral. It was a Monday and there must have been 50 cars at the cemetary. I was almost inconsolable. Even when I visited again, and eventually another time when Mom died, I was drawn to the memory of my father and how tough his death had been. But not so today. Sure, it is the burial place of my parents, but I felt strangely detached. Almost like it was from a different time and place. In a sense, it was.
The biggest change is how my faith journey has progressed since the first time I stared down at those graves. But I still realize that I am a work in progress. There is no denying that I have come a long way. God has knocked off quite a few of the rough edges I used to have, but the work isn’t done yet. I still have my moments when I regress into the life I used to live – a life that I am not particularly proud of – now please don’t think that I have ever murdered anyone, or used drugs, but there are plenty of things that I would not do today.
That’s probably why I felt a little detached today. The person I was back in 1978 is not the person I am today. But I don’t think I have ever experienced such a clear break with the past as I felt standing in front of the family monument this afternoon.
The verse for today is from Col. 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Somehow, these verses resonate with me tonight. Since those days more than 30 years ago, I really have undergone a life transition of the highest order under the direction of the Father.
By the way, the monument is about to undergo a transition of its own. On the way out of the cemetary, I stopped back at the office and ordered the trees be removed. That way, next time I am there, at least I will once again be able to spot the family marker from the street – like back when it was first erected.
My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God is also doing a work in you. Hopefully, you are not the same person you were years ago, either. My prayer is that you will continue to listen to the leanings of the Holy Spirit and become more Christ-like as you grow older. And maybe, just maybe, you will have the same kind of “aha” moment I had today, when God gave me a glimpse of the past and how far I have come with Him to this point in my life. What a grand journey – have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…