Had you grown up where I did, one prominent headstone in the graveyard of St. Anne’s Church, Southampton, Bermuda would have caught your eye, just as it did mine. That churchyard, like so many of the churchyards in Bermuda, is surrounded with graves. There, just five or six graves from the front entrance to the church, you can readily spot a marble monument. In fact, the name Loblein catches your eye as quickly as the monument itself.
I recall as a youngster admiring that marble monument. Naturally, such admiration required multiplied questions to both of our parents. I learned much about this man who owned about a dozen grocery stores prior to his death. The stories abounded on his business zeal and popularity throughout the Island. I learned that on the day of his funeral, horse and carriages (the mode of transportation in that day), extended for more than a mile. People from every walk of life sensed an obligation to be present for the burial of this man who touched so many during his lifetime.
In my late teens I was working for Libby, McNeil & Libby as an accountant. We had considerable dealings with O.R. Loblein, Ltd. A transition was taking place about that time. Cars had arrived on the Island and Supermarkets were to become the mode of food supply. In a very brief period of time, O.R. Loblein, Ltd. would become a name of the past. Today, I doubt that many of the younger generation of Bermudians even know that such a company existed. The majority would look at that monument and wonder: “Who was he?” The name does not appear in the telephone directory.
Monuments are interesting to read when visiting a graveyard; some of the oldies draw forth a chuckle, while others raise questions about the how’s and why’s behind it all. Occasionally, one will tug at your heartstrings. Most of them serve for a generation or two but gradually become someone of the forgotten past. I have often driven over some bridge or highway and wondered: “Where did this name come from?”
While monuments serve a purpose, more importantly, we must ask ourselves, where does this all fit into the present. If there is a monument that should be left, it is one life being engraved into the heart of another. It is not just a name on a brick; it is the sacrificed life being engraved into the life of another.
I have stood beside the graves of our young men who have died with valor in the service of our country. They deserve recognition. Behind the scenes are the parents of those young men who will forever be forgotten. There will be no marble monuments for them, yet, they paid a stupendous price to raise those fellows and help them to arrive at a maturity level that said in effect: “Others first. Self second.”
I look often at crosses that represent the person of Jesus Christ being sacrificed for the sin of humanity. I wonder if it is nothing more than a “good luck charm” or some other object of little importance to the one wearing it. I keep asking, “Has it engraved its message into the heart of the wearer.”
Where might one consider the focus of his ministry? Are we looking at things or people? A most beautiful illustration of the “monuments” that people should consider erecting is portrayed for us by Jesus Himself: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 NASB)
Perhaps our interest should be heart-stones rather than headstones.