(The below was from an email that Tim Conway sent to his church, after reflecting on the graveside service, which occurred after the above video.)
Brethren, I wish I were a poet…then I might be able to paint an appropriate picture of the scene we witnessed there in that small rural Missouri cemetery last Saturday.
It is autumn in Missouri.
It struck me as fitting that Bob’s journey here came to an end even as the leaves that were so recently budding forth in Spring, are now also coming to their end, some hanging red, yellow, and brown upon their tree waiting to be blown from their tree by the wind…while a myriad of others blow across the ground like a wave upon the ground.
The day also was coming to an end as the sun was dropping low in the mostly overcast sky…twilight at hand…so the day of Bob’s earthly pilgrimage has come to an end.
There was a typical green tent set up over the grave site. One side was enclosed…it was the side on the south as a strong wind blew warmly from that direction, ahead of a cold rainy front that was pushing in from the West. The kind of high clouds that precede a storm covered the broad November sky. The Jennings family sat and stood along that closed side of the tent, in front of the casket…that casket that Bob’s sons had made with their own hands.
There may have been two hundred people there…or maybe one hundred…most dressed in suits and ties and dresses. All stood motionless…in silence. The wind blowing. The dry leaves giving the type of sound they give when the wind blows through them. One of the trees nearby is already barren. The oak tree beside it will hold onto its dead leaves until spring…as oaks do…so it was able to speak in the silence.
It was growing dark.
Out there among the woods and farmlands of the cemetery a lone voice broke the silence and overshadowed the song of the wind in the leaves lifting up the words of “Be Still My Soul”.
Then there was silence again as a hired man who likely knew not our dear departed Brother, worked to move flowers and plants and then Bob’s body was lowered into the ground before us all.
The casket slowly sunk…wind blowing.
On that casket, Bob’s sons had put these words: O grave where is your victory, O death where is your sting? Clint stood at the head of the grave watching his beloved fellow laborer’s physical body descend down into it’s temporary resting place with those words of triumph witnessing to the fact that this grave must one day give up it’s contents.
All were dismissed. Terri came forth from the tent with her sorrows overruled by a broad smile. As the family and friends consoled and spoke in soft tones…the clunk of the vault cover could be heard falling into place and sealing all it’s contents within.
Those words Bob spoke at the end of his sermon here were played at the funeral. They undoubtedly drifted through the thoughts of many as we made our way away from that little cemetery:
“…press on…my love to you, my love to you….fare well…ooooh…good bye…there’s no good bye…we’ll see you in a little while, you won’t be far behind me…”