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Respect, honor and small towns.

I grew up in the suburbs. A place of perpetual activity. Of Hurry. Of worry. Of 5 soccer games on the weekend, piano lessons and orthodontics. A place where there is very little time to sit and think about…well…anything.

I still live in the burbs. I don’t love it, and I don’t hate it. It’s the water and I am the fish…the suburbs are where I live. They just “are.”

funeralLast week I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s mother in small town Indiana. It included things I expected – a small country church, home-spun anecdotes about the wonderful woman who passed away, and a delicious “pitch-in” lunch following the service. It also surprised me in a few ways – the genuine warmth I received from people I didn’t know, the breathtaking landscape of rural Indiana in autumn, and how beautiful a funeral can be.

As we left the funeral home in the long line of cars being led to the cemetery by local police escort, one observation struck me. Though we moved at a snail’s pace, every car coming the opposite direction pulled to the side of the road.

I was stunned.

I looked at the people in the cars. Young, old, kids in car seats, businessmen and students. I didn’t see a single person who looked impatient, nervously tapping their steering wheel waiting for the procession to pass. They were calm and respectful, acknowledging the gravity of the moment. There was even an older gentleman on a riding lawnmower who stopped and bowed his head as the line of cars passed.

Where I live, I can’t imagine a scene like this. Even if we were required to stop, I think I would be releasing heavy sighs, calculating how I could make up for the loss of four precious minutes.

I’ll admit it. I like the convenience of the suburbs. I like the school systems and the easy, geographically convenient access to services I use virtually every day. I can buzz around with few obstacles, but do I miss the people? Are the lives around me worthy of honor and respect, and do I steep myself in their richness?

Thanks, Seymour, Indiana.

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2 Responses to “Respect, honor and small towns.”

  1. Chris, well put. I thought some of the same things while we were down there too. I felt like life sort of hit the pause button and it was ok to remain in the moment and just be. The guy on the lawn mower struck me as well. There is actually a good chance he knew who the funeral procession was for given the small town we were in. It was a beautiful day to celebrate a life well lived.

  2. Respect and honor — what wonderful words. We love to receive them and we love to offer them. Thanks for painting a picture of the dignity of human life and reminding us make it part of whatever water we swim in. (Nice to see you writing too.)

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