Thoughts from the cemetery

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Local columnist

Several years ago my younger brother told me he’d taken his bag chair out to Paint Creek Cemetery near Robert Lee, Texas, unfolded it on his cemetery plot, sat down, and written a column or two for his church newsletter. He said he figured he might as well get some use out of that plot while he could still enjoy it. Weird.[Marker]

Weird may be contagious. As I write, I’m sitting against a tree I’ve borrowed at a beautiful area cemetery. I own no land here. I just like this peaceful place. Occasionally, I’ll climb onto my motorcycle, head over fifteen miles or so to this spot, lean up against a nice tree, eat a sandwich, and read (or write) a little.

Cemeteries are conducive to thinking. So are funerals. It’s an unusual person who doesn’t think a few serious thoughts at a funeral. We’re all just waiting our turn to be the honored guest.

Come to think of it, a recent funeral really made me think. I’d been asked to sing at the service for the father of two gals who are friends of mine. One of the sisters I met during my growing up years in Amarillo where she and her husband were attending the Bible school my dad had started. We went to the same church and knew many of the same folks, most of them part of the same group in the same church tradition. Now, years later, her father’s funeral was being held at a church with those same roots. At that service were a number of longtime dear friends from those days gone by. In fact, the pastor’s wife babysat my brother and me when we were small!

Years later, when I moved to Muleshoe, I met the other sister. She and her husband are well-loved members of the First Baptist Church. He and I have sung in a quartet and in other groups together many times. At the funeral that day was their pastor who is a close friend of mine, and many other good friends and loved ones from that church. As I looked out over the congregation, I realized I was witnessing what for me was the intersection of two worlds, people from two worlds who I love deeply but who’d never even met each other.

Those folks are all brothers and sisters, children in the same very large family. Many family members are like them, still making their journey through this world. Many more are like the folks whose earthly remains rest near me today. They’ve long ago crossed over into another world.

But all of us who love and trust the same Lord are members of the family. As I saw two worlds from my own experience intersecting, I found myself even more eager for that great day when the Father throws a family reunion the likes of which our universe has never seen, when the whole family gets together for the best party ever!

For now, I better motor on. If I stay here much longer someone may start digging a hole.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at