Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thinking about Death

A long procession of police cars with their overhead lights on. Police officers standing at attention saluting. A 21-gun salute. A lone bugler playing TAPS in the background. Bagpipes---oh, the friggin bagpipes. A radio announcement broadcasting the end of the tour of duty of a police officer. A helicopter fly-over. Police funerals are very somber occasions. Macabre as it may seem---about weekly, I imagine what if one were mine.

What if something happened to me, either on-duty or off, and my brothers in blue came together to send me off. It's always a very troubling thought. Not because of what it means for me. I am reasonably determined, depending on the day and my state of grace for that day, that eventually I'll be in Heaven. I may be shutting out the lights in Purgatory--but I'll get to heaven. What bothers me is how it will affect my wife, kids and friends. I think I am a decent enough person that they might be slightly bothered by my early demise.

People don't like to think about their deaths. I suppose in my job it is natural. You see death quite often in many forms. I believe that thinking of death is a valuable exercise in this line of work. It's important to realize that you have a dangerous job. It's necessary to realize that you can get seriously hurt or even killed. When you keep that in mind you are more likely to keep alert. You are more likely to be aware of your surroundings. You won't take people for granted. You are run scenarios through your head--"if this happens what should I do." You are less likely to get lackadaisical because you don't want to have that police funeral anytime soon.

Thinking about death can be very important in the spiritual life. It's said that it's very important to meditate on the "four end things" which are-death,judgement, heaven and hell. It's sort of like checking our moral compass to make sure we are heading in the right direction. When you pause and reflect that we are all going to die eventually. We are all going to be judged. And we are all going to either Heaven or Hell. It's that gut check that may shake you back to reality and realize, "Oh crud, I need to straighten up!" much like a cop needs to realize that if he does not practice good officer safety that there is a good chance that he might get kicked in the crotch---if he's lucky.

Mark Hart--aka-The Bible Geek--has said that Heaven is an invitation and Hell is a choice. By occasionally thinking of your own death and the judgement afterwards, you have a better chance of accepting that invitation. As for me, I'll keep my eyes on the bad guys hands and have a better chance of keeping that police funeral at bay.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prayer: It's What's Good For You

We all know that prayer is good. We all know that intercessory prayer is good. It's good for us to pray for others and for them to pray for us. Have you ever stopped and wondered, "Why?" I know, I know---we aren't supposed to question things and I'm not saying it's not good and I'm not saying I am going to stop. I'm just asking "why?" Maybe it comes from so many years of teaching teen agers in confirmation. And the question had been troubling me so much that I took it to my spiritual director last week.
Seriously though, why is intercessory prayer good? God is all knowing. It's not like He is sitting there and hears our prayer and goes, "WHAT? Bill is sick?!?! Well, I had no idea! Of course I'll heal him!" God's will will be done. I don't think we are going to change his mind. He's not sitting there will a tally board and once he gets so many prayers do what is asked. ("Well, I've gotten more requests for the New Orleans Saints to win so they will be San Diego this weekend)

Yet, prayer seems to work. I've heard of studies where they take two patients in equitable physical condition and one receives prayers (unknown to him) and the other does not. The one who receives the prayers does better than the other. The desired response may not come quickly--St. Monica praying for the conversion of her son-St. Augustine-comes to mind. And the response may not be what you wanted. But prayer does work.
I think our problem comes because we try to see God through our own eyes. We have to remember that God's ways are beyond our knowledge and understanding. We have to remember that God doesn't need us. He loves us. He desires to draw us to Him. But he doesn't need us. So, if it's true that prayer is good and it's true that God loves us and it's true that he desires us to be closer to him then I think it's a safe assumption that prayer is for us and not for God.

We may not be telling God anything new when we pray. We may not be convincing God of anything or changing His mind. But, when we pray we get closer to God. It is through prayer that we are drawn to Him. It is through prayer that we come together as pieces of the Body of Christ. It is through prayer that we are healed--even if we do not now how or why.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Job as a Husband and a Father

As Abby's husband, one of my main purposes in my vocation is to help her get to Heaven. One of her responsibilities is to help me to get to Heaven. It goes beyond that though. I have a responsibility to help my children get there, as well as family members and friends. Heck, as members of the Body of Christ, we all have the responsibility of helping each other reach eternity with God.

I believe that my two biggest tasks in life are to do everything I can to help my spouse and my children to Heaven. I could be a great evangelist writing books and giving speeches and bringing thousands to God and to the faith but if I fail to get my wife and kids to Heaven then my mission on Earth has failed. Side note: I should change that--there is someone else I need to get to Heaven. I can't fail to get get myself there either.

There are two realities that I am aware of. The first is that there is NOTHING I can do to in order to get people to Heaven. That is only done because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus-the ultimate sacrifice that He made on Calvary. I can only hope that God gives me the grace and allows me to guide people to Him.

The second reality is that Abby and the kids each have free will given to them by God. They can do whatever they choose. Again, I can only hope that God gives me the grace and allows me to guide them to Him. And more importantly, that I do not become an OBSTACLE in them finding Jesus.

I understand that life happens. That kids grow up in ways that aren't pleasing to us. Perhaps they do something that you might consider "scandalous." The bottom line though, is that you must ALWAYS let them know that they are loved. They should always know that they can come home to you. We should be models of the father of the prodigal son, who is, of course, a model of our Father in Heaven.

God is always there for us. He is just waiting for us to return to him. We may be frustrated at our kids when they are not acting the way we want them to. Perhaps they just aren't going to mass regularly. Maybe they have left the church. Perhaps they have slipped into criminal activity. There are many reasons we may not be happy with the way they turned out.

The thing we must not do, and this is whether it's a spouse, a child or someone off the street, is to some how take our faith and make it into an obstacle that will keep them away from God. We must be honest with them, yes. We can let them know we are not happy with their behavior or we can show them the error of our ways. But we cannot be so full of pride and anger that they do not feel they can return to us for love and support. If we use our own faith to create an obstacle we will place that obstacle in the way of them and God, and God doesn't want that.

Do you have a loved one who has fallen from the faith?? Look inside of yourself. Did you have something to do with that. Have you created obstacles for them to come home to you and to God. When is the last time you have tried to reach out to them. Do you need to apologize to them? What can you do to help lead your loved one to God?

Personal Attachment to Toy Story 3

If you haven't seen Toy Story 3 then get thee to a movie theater to watch it and then come back to this blog and let me know what you think.

I took my kids to see Toy Story 3 last Friday and we really enjoyed the movie, as we enjoyed the previous two movies. Since, I put on the spoiler alert I could assume that you all have seen the movie and I shouldn't have to explain the move to you but as I'm sure there are some people who ignored my warning and read on I'll give a short synopsis:

The story is about the Woody, Buzz, Mr and Mrs Potatohead, Rex and other toys from the first two movies. They are the remaining toys from Andy's childhood as he prepares to go off to college. Andy is forced to sort his room and throw away items and choose what items he is picking to put into storage and toys to be donated to a day care. Andy picks the toys out of his toybox and puts them in trash bag to be put up in the attic. The trash bag gets picked up by his mother, who things it's garbage and puts it out curbside. The toys escape and make it to the mother's car and another box which is going to Sunnyside Day Care. It's determined that the day care isn't the glorious place it appears to be, Woody, Buzz and the others escape and make it back to Andy's before he leaves for school. Then, through a set of circumstances, Andy makes the decision to give the toys to a family friend who has a young girl--with the exception of Woody, who is going to go to college with Andy. They girl instantly falls in love with the toys, including Woody--who climbed into the box. At first, Andy is hesitant to give away Woody but--with not a dry eye in the theater-- finally relents and gives her his favorite toy.

As I was watching the scene in which Andy is giving away his toys, I was getting all choked up, getting a little teary eyed (I pretty sure I wasn't the only one who got all teary eyed as you can see here.) What the heck was I freaking out about. These are toys! This is an animated movie! I rationalized with myself that even though these were both true statements we, as movie goers, had assigned human personalities to them. After all, through three movies now, we had seen their adventures. We have seen them talk and walk and show fear, happiness and sorrow. In our minds, they weren't toys, or a cartoon---they were just as human as a human actor in a live-action movie.

Or was that all there was to it? Maybe we could associate with Andy and how he felt in giving away his toys. After all, we have all had to get rid of personal belongings before. We've all had belongings that have sentimental value to us. The question is--how much sentimental value to we put on these things. On one scale we hold valuable those things that bring back memories--photographs, trophies, maybe other inanimate objects. For instance, a decade ago my wife sold my trombone from high school band and I was TICKED! (Men, if your wife is having a yard sale keep a close eye on them) This piece of brass was dinged up and hadn't been out of it's case in nearly a decade. It was serving no purpose. But I allowed myself to get upset about losing this inanimate object that in years past I had made music with (now that I think about it--I don't think she ever gave me the money for it either)

Other times, we hold attachments to personal items that don't hold sentimental value but are more practical. We are upset about losing these items, such as televisions, computers, stereos, cars etc. These are items what we would lose in a burglary or something. For instance, the computer I am typing on holds a lot of value to me. If something would happen to it, I would be really frustrated. They can be easily replaced but yet, we hold some sort of personal attachment to them.

Here is the thing about objects, they are only objects. We need to learn not to have these attachments to them. By holding attachments to physical items we are distancing ourselves from God. We need to learn to not have these attachments. This is not to say that physical things are bad. After all, we were made as physical beings, as well as spiritual beings. God made the world and everything that is in it. Everything that God made is good. The problem is that a disordered attachment to physical things can lead to sin. It can lead to greed. It can lead to envy. It can even lead to pride.

The bottom line, is that everything we have in this world has been given to us from God. When we die, we aren't going to take anything with us. So, maybe it's time to have a yard sale and get rid of that old wicker furniture and that old trombone from high school as well as those Woody and Buzz dolls (or are they action figures?)

As an extra, check out this site for neat little trivia about Toy Story 3.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gluttony and the Small Diet Coke

Doesn't it strike you sometimes how often we are attacked in our culture every day to sin? Heck, just think of how tempting it is to sin right from where you are sitting right now at just a few clicks of the mouse. If you go into the blogosphere, you will find people writing things that will make you angry (wrath). You think to yourself that these people are dumb and should think they way you think(pride.) Another few clicks, and you can see the lifestyles of the rich and famous and you are wanting everything--the cars, the clothes, the house--that the celebrities have (greed) and by golly, you deserve it more than them (envy.) Another click and you see a picture of a Hollywood starlet(lust) and before you know it, you have spent hours in front of the computer doing nothing (sloth.) The remaining capital sin is one that you actually have to get up from the computer for though because you have to either go to some restaurant or to the kitchen (gluttony.)

It's surprising how often we are encouraged to be gluttonous though. It's amazing how difficult it is to eat healthy especially in light of the obesity crisis in the United States. We are always being encouraged to eat more. Restaurants now have "packages" where, for one price, you get an appetizer, a meal, and a desert. We are encouraged to "eat the fourth meal" by shoving extra burritos and tacos down our throat at 2am. Portions are out of control. One fast food chain has all drinks for a dollar so when you ask for a small or medium they automatically give you a large. Another place doesn't even have small drinks. They only have medium and large. (I don't know how you have a medium but not a small) Today's "regular" drinks and fries are what "large" used to be and the "small" of today was the "regular" or yesterday.

It's pretty obvious to see why gluttony (the excessive indulgence of food or drink) is bad for us physically but why is it bad for us spiritually? Why is it a sin? Why is fasting good while gluttony is bad? It's not a real easy question to answer. I supposes there may be two answers. The first is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. They are gifts from God and we are supposed to take care of them.

The problem with that answer is that it goes back to why it's bad physically and doesn't answer why it's bad spiritually. To understand this we need to recall that as humans we are both physical and spiritual beings and at all times our soul needs to be in charge of our body. If we allow our body to be in charge we become animals doing whatever pleases our body and not what is pleasing to God. We attack when angry. We boast when we are proud. We back stab to get ahead. We have sex whenever we want with whoever we want. We sleep whenever we want. Everything becomes about us. We are no longer reflecting the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God and made to love and made for relationship.

The over indulgence in anything is bad for us spiritually--not just food or drink. The over indulgence of anything leads to the disordered desire for that item which leads to an unhealthy attachment to those items. To overindulge makes us spiritually weak and less likely to be able to do the right thing when necessary. That's why fasting it good--it helps makes our spirit stronger. It gives us will-power.

Gluttony is a sin that is over looked. It's actually celebrated instead of condemned. It shouldn't be a surprise though. Being a Christian and living the Christian lifestyle is counter cultural. So . . . give me a small.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The End of the Year of the Priest

A couple of weeks ago I went to confession and instead of the crusty old monsignor (who just happens to be the the reason I drive 30 minutes to this parish to go to confession there) a young priest came back and walked into the confessional. I was intrigued. I had never seen this priest before. I was pleasantly surprised by the spiritual counseling that he gave me. My eyeballs about popped out though when, instead of the five Hail Mary's and five Our Father's I'm used to, I got five decades of the rosary for my penance. And then I was taken back when he granted me absolution in Latin.

I grabbed a bulletin on my way out hoping to find something out about this priest. Was he new to the parish? Was he replacing the monsignor? I found a little snippet about a request for prayers for this priest as he began his vocation. I went home, got online and found out that he had only been ordained four days earlier. I may have been one of the first confessions that this young priest had heard.

This got me to thinking about the life journey this young man was embarking on. I think as Catholics we tend to put priests in two different categories. We either put them on a pedestal and think that they can do no wrong or think of their vocation as just a job that anyone could do.

Some Catholics will think it's wrong to say anything bad about a priest. You can't say that a priest is boring. You can't criticize him. You can't critique him. This is silly. They are men. They are just people. Just like you and I. They have human emotions. They enjoys having a beer at a baseball game. They may give boring homilies. They enjoy jokes. They make mistakes. They are on a spiritual journey just as you and I are. They don't have all the answers ready to blurt out like some sort of computer.

On the other hand, there is something special about them. They have dedicated their life to God. They've made promises of celibacy and obedience. They receive the ability to act in the person of Christ (persona Christi) and are able to forgive sins and transform bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. I couldn't imagine the graces that our priests receive. I've been given many blessing--a wife and kids--but that doesn't compare to the blessings priests are given. I also haven't been asked to make the sacrifices that priests are asked to make.

For the last year, we have celebrated these men by dedicating the last twelve months as the "year of the priest." This was a good idea--to take the year and reflect on our priests and to take the time to appreciate them. Just as Valentine's Day is a day to remember our loved ones or Father's Days (cough--this Sunday--cough) is a day to treat our dads in special ways, the "Year of the Priest" was a year to treat our priests in a special way. But just like we shouldn't forget our loved ones or our dads when it isn't their respective holiday (in fact--I think we should treat our dads special 365 days out of the year) we shouldn't forget our priests now that the year is over.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome to the Masquerade

I think I was in high school when I noticed the interesting phenomenon that I behaved differently depending on who I was around. I would act one way when I was with my family, another when I was with friends or fellow students, and another when I was in front of teachers. I've even noticed this with my own kids, who the teachers tell me are so wonderful and well behaved. I ask the teacher if they are talking about the right kid.

I think we are all like this. We put on different fronts, different masks and different facades depending on who we are dealing with. This is probably based mostly on nessessity. I know as a police officer I behave differently when I'm at work. If I'm having a bad day I still have to treat everyone fairly and justly and can't give a verbal lashing when I feel like it. I have to put on a smile and act amused whenever I walk in someplace and hear someone say, "I didn't do it" or "Watch out Bill---they're here for you!" I have to put on a serious face and be professional when horrible things have happened because others are looking for you to be that rock.

So, it's natural and necessary to wear these different masks depending on who we are around. We are even told to do this by Jesus in Matthew that when we fast not to look dismal but to wash our face so that our fasting cannot be seen by others. Often we fail at this and we act all pompous and serious and by doing so turn others off to our faith. Why should they follow us when we look like we just ate a lemon. Don't get me wrong, being a Christian can be very difficult and you do have to sacrifice. We are, after all, challenged to pick up out cross daily. Not exactly easy.

At some point though, we have to take the mask off and let others see us for who we are. It's been said that worshiping God is like a cross--we praise God, going up in a vertical manner, but that part of worshiping him is reaching out to our fellow man and helping them--in a horizontal manner. But true love is giving and receiving. We worship God and we have to open ourselves up and allow Him to fill us with His grace. So we may not let others see that we are fasting, but God knows and will give us grace to not only help us through the fast but to help us grow from it.

Likewise, we are put here not only to help others, but to allow them to help us and that can be where the challenge is, especially when we allow pride to come in. Especially when we are trying to put on a brave persona and make everyone happy. There is some point where we have to open ourselves up and let others see us for who we are. We have to let people know we are hurting, that we are scared, or that we don't know what to do. Allowing others to help you not only assists you but helps them feel better. I know that as a friend, one of my biggest pleasures is helping my friends. I enjoy being there for them and allowing them to vent.

Be aware of your surroundings. Yes, you have to behave differently depending on where you are. The fart joke you tell to your uncle may not go over well at the ladies auxiliary. But know that God knows you for who you are so open up and stop trying to hide from him. And be confidant that you can open up to your friends and family and allow them to assist you through difficult times.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Glenn Beck, Social Justice and Catholicism

Saturday morning I had a class and during it we watched a video of a speaker, Jack Jezreel, talking about Catholic social justice and my mind wandered to the quote of Glenn Beck that raised such an uproar a couple months ago. Glenn Beck, the conservative radio/television host, was quoted as saying, "I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! …If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, “Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?” If it’s my church, I’m alerting the church authorities: “Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?” And if they say, “yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing”—I’m in the wrong place."

I happen to like Glenn Beck, although I rarely watch him or listen to him. But I remember that when I heard this quote I thought to myself that he had certainly gotten it wrong this time. The gospels point not only vertical-- upwards to God--but they point us horizontal. They point us in the direction of our fellow humans and direct us to take care of them also, especially the weak and the marginalized. Repeatedly, Jesus tells us to take care of the sick, the elderly, and the poor. He tells us that whatever we do to take care of those we do take care of Him.

The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have highlighted seven themes that are the heart of Catholic teaching. These themes are more fully described here. They are

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person-all human life is sacred
  • Call to Family, Community and Participation--marriage and family is the central social institutions and should be strengthened
  • Rights and Responsibility--everyone has a right to life and a right to those things required for human decency
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable--we must take care of those most poor and vulnerable
  • The Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers--basic rights of workers must be protected
  • Solidarity--We are one human family
  • Care for God's Creation--we are responsible for the planet that God has given us
One interesting thing that I got from this video we watched Saturday morning was that even though God focuses His attention on the poor and wants us to do the same it doesn't mean that he loves the poor more than he loves the rich. It's like a parent who is attending to an injured child doesn't love that child more than another. He loves everyone unconditionally. God is giving those of us who are doing well the opportunity to grow spiritually. By reaching down and assisting those less fortunate we are able to grow spiritually because we cannot help to grow in love by helping them.

Here is the problem with what Mr. Beck had to say. The first is that it was taken out of context. What he said was so brash that it was easy for those who might disagree with him to take it and run with it. If you re-read it you will think to yourself that he must be an idiot. The thing is, he was talking about those churches that actually are pushing a political agenda. The second is that Mr. Beck's definition of social justice is a little difference than what we may think. Glenn Beck defines social justice as "Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice." The third mistake was making a comment that would make people think that this is what Catholic social justice is--as one could assume by him using words such as "priest" or "bishop."

The Catholic Church has rejected communism and socialism--they've shown themselves to be atheistic and totalitarian. Likewise, she has rejected "capitalism individualism" because it, in itself, fails social justice (2425-Catechism of the Catholic Church) She recognizes that government isn't going to properly take care of those in need just as the market place isn't. We need to get off our rear, take care of our brothers and sisters, and stop relying others to do it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Class Shown by Joyce and Galarraga (and NOT Cardinals fans)

I'm a day late and a dollar short, but Wednesday night Detroit Tiger's pitcher Armando Galarraga was on his way to a perfect game. He had pitched 8 2/3's innings of perfect ball. Not a single Cleveland Indian had made it to first base. Then, Indian Jason Donald hit a ball to the first baseman who threw it to Galarraga who was covering for the final out seemingly ending the ball game. Wait!! The first base umpire called Donald safe even though he was obviously out. Galarraga recovered and got the next batter out for what is being called the first 28 out perfect game.

To his credit, first base umpire Jim Joyce, realized his mistake after reviewing the replay after the game and was aghast at his error. He said that it was the most important call of his career and he "kicked the #### out of the call" costing "that kid" a perfect game.

And to his credit, Armando Galarraga, took it all with class. I'm sure he was angry and upset but he accepted Joyce's apology saying that we all make mistake. The next day Tiger manag
er, Jim Leyland, had Galarraga take the line-up out to Joyce, who happened to the the home plate umpire--a sign of respect and forgiveness.

We can all take lessons from both Joyce and Galarraga. Joyce was a class act and came out and said he messed up. Sometimes we can be stubborn and make excuses when we mess up. "Traffic was bad." "I thought it was later on." "It was so and so's fault." In boot camp, my senior drill instructor used to say "excuses are like @#!-*^&#'s--everyone has one and they all stink." (you can put "belly button's there--but it just doesn't have the same flair) Maybe it's a self defense mechanism but we tend to make excuses for ourselves when we need to put on our big boy pants and accept blame and ask for forgiveness.

Galarraga also was a class act. He has every right to be angry. He would have been in baseball's history books for being one of the few people to ever throw a perfect game. But he accepted Joyce's apology and moved on. It takes a big man to do that. It's much easier to wallow in pity and be angry. But you know what---in the end--in knows he threw a perfect game even if it's not in the books and he will probably be remembered longer for this incident.

Be a man, and accept blame for your mistakes, and be a man and be willing to forgive those to have hurt you. Two lessons to learn from baseball this week.

Now---on a side note. This call is being called the worst blown call since Don Denkinger called Orta safe in game six of the 1985 World Series. As a Royals fan, I am SO sick of people complaining about this blown call. The Royals were down 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th of game six. The St. Louis Cardinals were 3 outs away from a World Series win and Don Denkinger called Orta safe at 1st base. The Royals go on to win that game and the next game for the championship.

Now, there are a couple of differences between the two incidents.

#1) Galaragga didn't CHOKE like the Cardinals did afterwards. The Cardinals made errors and let themselves lose.

#2) Donald would have been the last out of the game. Orta was the lead off hitter. A champion team doesn't lose because of a lead off hit.

#3) Galaragga still won despite the bad call. The Cardinals not only CHOKED that game but got BLOWN OUT in game 7.

#4) Galaragga reacted with class. He didn't tear up the club house and hold onto it for THIRTY YEARS. GET OVER IT CARDINALS FANS!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

One of my families traditions on Memorial Day is to go to the cemetary to "visit" relatives who have died. It's a pretty neat tradition as most of my deceased realitives are buried in the same area and going to their graves is a way to remember them and pass along our heritage. About fifty yards from all of the McAdams' grave stones is where Mr. Lamb is buried. Mr. Lamb died in 1887 and when his family moved away from the area my great-grandma promised his wife that she would take care of his grave. This tradition has passed down to my grandpa, to my mom, my sister and now my daughter.

Recalling my family members buried there is easy. We have stories. Photographs. Memories. But what about Mr. Lamb. What was he enjoy doing? Who did he love? I always find it sad to see the tombstones that haven't been visited for decades such as Elma--who "resides" a few plots over my my family but hasn't had family visit for decades. At least these graves are in a well taken care of cemetery. There are probably thousands of small little cemeteries across the country where our ancestors have been buried and the area has been reclaimed by the environment. The cemeteries have become overgrown and forgotten. What about those people? Have they been forgotten except for an old faded stone?

Feeling sad for the dead who have seemingly been forgotten shows my worldly thinking. God, who knows the numbers of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), has not forgotten them. I would say that not only have they not been forgotten but that they are now in the presence of God and doing MUCH better than we are. Why am I feeling bad for them because there are not flowers there on memorial day or because the writing on their gravestone is becoming unreadable. I should be jealous. They are in our Father's presence, reunited with those that they loved. You and I are the ones who are still in "exile."

Mr. Lamb has not been forgotten. Nor has Elma. Nor have you or I. And there is no need for me to be jealous. Because no matter how alone we feel God is always there desiring a relationship with us. God is always there to guide us. He has not forgotten us just has he has not forgotten those in an unmarked grave. As long as our life goal is that relationship with God--through the valleys and peaks--then there is no need for us to worry about what the condition of our tombstone will be like 100 years after our death. Even if our grave isn't visited like Mr. Lamb's we still won't have been forgotten.