04 July 2009

'Looking for the Savior, With Those Who've Gone Before'

The photo above is of my thrice-great grandmother, Mrs Hulda Thurston Hinch, who died on 6 April 1930 in Marble City, OK, at the age of 92. In the photo, she is sitting with her son, my great-great granduncle Benjamin Hinch. I first learned of Grandma Hinch just this week from my parents. My father is an avid amateur genealogist, and for him the researching of old names and wandering in cemeteries is a moral, almost spiritual act of remembering and honouring our ancestors. Until this week, I do not recall ever even having heard Grandma Hinch’s name, but now I have not only this photograph, but a quite illuminating obituary as well. I would like to post part of it here exactly as it appears in the newspaper:

Mrs Hinch had been a member of the Methodist church 58 years and member of the Baptist church two years. as there was no Methodist church in Marble, she joined the Baptist church.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev Jim Stone, a Holiness preacher. The choir sang “Nearer My God to Thee,” “Asleep in Jesus,” and “Death is Only a Dream.” The last named was requested by the deceased to be sung at her funeral and before leaving her home.

She was laid to rest at Dwight Mission cemetery to await the resurrection.

She was a loving mother and a devoted Christian. She prayed for her [5] children and for the Lord to take her home to glory. Heaven seemed to be opened and gave her a glimpse of her dear ones gone on before. She looked up and talked to them and held her hands up and said, “Take me Lord, take me.”

But as the icing on the cake, the obituary includes a poem, attributed to ‘A Daughter’, entitled ‘A Loved One is Sleeping’:

A loved one now is sleeping,
Just gone on before;
Another link to bind us
To that eternal shore.

The waters threatened deep,
And seeming wildly rolled;
But weary limbs and tired feet
Soon pressed the sands of gold.

We loved thee well ’tis true,
But Jesus loved thee best;
So lay thy tired head upon
Thy Savior’s loving breast.

Worlds, trials and temptations
Thy soul again shall never test;
Beyond the power victor,
Thou hast entered into rest.

Over death and grave a conqueror,
A victor’s crown is thine.
While we around thy memory
A laurel wreathe will twine.

Now looking for the Savior,
With those who’ve gone before,
To come again rejoicing
We’ll meet to part no more.

United then a family
To sing His praise, His name adore,
Joining tender thoughts and memories,
Of these their happy days of yore.

This glimpse of a simple woman's simple faith, and the intimations of her possible salvation (including the remarkable hint of a vision of Paradise!), reminded me of a quote from Metropolitan Philaret of blessed memory (third First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad) recently posted by Christopher Orr (this passage is part of His Eminence's response to a question in Orthodox Life that can be read in full here):

It is self-evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth. . . . They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, 'Who will have all men to be saved' (I Tim. 2:4) and 'Who enlightens every man born into the world' (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation in His own way.

I hope one day I will meet Grandma Hinch on 'that eternal shore', and that we will be 'United then a family / To sing His praise, His name adore'.


The Ochlophobist said...


aaronandbrighid said...

Something told me you in particular might enjoy this one!

By the way, would you mind e-mailing me with your e-mail address? I don't have it apparently.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

That is beautiful. Thank you, Aaron.

+Bishop SAVAS of Troas said...

I've been away from the computer for the past couple of days, Aaron, and so just came across this today. It's beautiful from start to finish. I'm especially grateful for the quote from Metropolitan Philaret (for which I must also thank Christopher!), as it says so well what so many of us hold to be true. May it be so!

Justin said...

Sorry for just now getting around to commenting on this. Yes, this is a beautiful and touching post. I can attest to the spiritual aspect of remembering our ancestors; I've walked cemeteries with my brother and cousin- also amateur genealogists. There is a real sense that you stand on hollowed ground. I will be reposting this on another blog.