I spent this past Saturday here, near the town of Waterville, PA at Little Pine Creek. This area is where my father's mother's family had lived since in the early 1800's. The land is still wooded with tall pines and scattered maple trees. The creek runs down the mountain, catching the light of the sun as it slips between the passing clouds. (Above image from Google Maps. Below images are my photos from 2009 and 2010.)
My family walks up the hill to the wooden pavilion where our relatives gather. Mountains of pines wave hello in the gentle breeze.
The land still stands in its pure, green beauty. Only the roadside guard-rail and metal bridges interrupt the view.
Oddly, the pine trees lack needles at the bases. While it was a hot weekend, it was tolerable under the shade of the trees.
Ah, native land :) Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, how I miss you!
Before leaving Little Pine, we stopped in at Waterville Cemetery. I was curious to see if my great-great-great grandfather's grave was there. It was, along with that of his daughter Julia (my great-great grandmother).
I've written some about George B. Wolf before. He was a blacksmith in Waterville and served in the 131st PA Volunteers, Company I, during the Civil War. It's estimated that his daughter Julia was born in 1862 - the same year that George B. served with the army. George's regiment made the charge across the field at Fredericksburg. I don't know whether or not he actually made the charge, but his cousin Oliver was injured and George was discharged from service on a surgeon's certificate later in December.
George B. had three children - a son and daughter born before the war, and another daughter born after the war. In 1882, twenty year-old Julia gave birth to a daughter. Julia died only six years later. Between 1882 and 1888, she was married to a Mr. Gamble and gave birth to a second child in 1886.
Julia's mother passed away in 1900, and Julia's husband Mr. Gamble passed in 1911. George B. lived to be 80 years old and passed away in 1913, by which time Julia's firstborn daughter had been married to a respected farmer and bore seven of her nine children. My grandmother was one of the nine. Her branch of the family moved out of the area in the mid 20th century and about 60 years later, I came on the scene!
I had mixed feelings standing on that dry cemetery ground. One the one hand, I felt lonely. I wanted to hear all the stories of my ancestors who lived during times so much different from my own. It was upsetting to think that they really were buried under there, and that I stood only a few feet above their bones. It was a disturbing, restless, sorrowful feeling. I felt frustrated looking into the cold, silent face of death. "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." Ecclesiastes 1:14
On the other hand, I felt hopeful and full of joyful wonder. One day, those quiet bones will awaken and what will they awaken to? Perhaps some of those same people will awaken to join the marriage feast of the Lamb with me. What a glorious day that will be! So, while I can't wake the dead, I can rest in the peace of knowing that even now, they sleep and wait. They are not lost. They have not come to naught. They still remain. Under those stone markers is planted the seed.
"But someone will say, 'How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?' Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain - perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body." I Corinthians 15:35-38
Rest in peace, you who are dead. And rest in peace, you who are alive. The same Savior - who was and who is and who is to come - still reigns. Hallelujah! "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" John 11:25-26