Yesterday I did it again. It was my freshman Bible class. The only comment I make to start is “Let’s go.” We leave the classroom, exit the school doors, and pile into my Ford pickup truck and another car. We then take a short drive into a nearby park and stop at a wooden railing, hop the fence, and climb a short hill to find a 200 year old cemetery at the top.
Then I give them this challenge: find the oldest and most recent burial stone and then the oldest and youngest person buried. It takes a bit for them to wander and observe to find the answers. We finally gather on the stone wall boundary and begin the conversation that everyone avoids. Death.
So what is a conversation about death like with 15 year old boys in an old cemetery? Pretty fascinating. First, we uncover that most of them have never seen anyone actually die. They are shielded from the actual event by many things. Second, we realize that almost all of them have experienced the effects of death, some of them painfully with relatives or friends.
Then I pop the question: “Do you think it’s morbid to talk about death?” The response yesterday was typical:
No, Coach, it’s helpful.
Hey, if you are a Christian, you have nothing to fear.
No, it’s reality.
And then we talk about the hope of heaven or the resurrection of Jesus or just the limited time we have in this life. Yesterday I noted that if I live to be 75, I only have about 7,300 days left. Even at 15, if they live to be the same age, they only have 21,900 days. It’s a reality check. There is a limit to this life. You can waste it or use it well. The one thing you can’t do is have it last forever. The Scriptures remind us to “number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12)
And then we leave to head back, but hopefully not leave behind what happened in this class.
If you think the return trip was morbid or solemn, think again. Soon after we left the cemetary, one of the boys playfully tackled another one on the way down the hill. Then they begged me to drive slowly so they could be late to their next class. And laughter filled my truck all the way back.
So…what do you think about my cemetery class?