A CATHOLIC CEMETERY lies not far away from my home. I take my favorite walks to visit it. Among the thousands who lie there, awaiting the day of the Resurrection, there are many whom I knew, this one or that one who was closer to me in my life than the others. I am drawn to them, not only by memory and the desire to mourn them, not only by my love for quiet seclusion and consideration of the perishability of all things earthly, but also by the firm awareness that I can still be of use to most of them, and because of this to myself as well.
And then, my memory, completely of its own accord, moves me from these tombs and builds a bridge to others, far away in my beloved German Fatherland. The mortal remains that these faraway tombs hold have indeed long decayed into dust, but the souls live, and with confident hope my loving intercessions are now also raised up to the throne of God for them, and I renew in myself the determination to rush to aid them the best way that I can in other ways as well.
Love never ceases. It knows no “too late”—even at the side of coffins and graves—but only if instead of exhausting itself with useless sentimental sighing and crying, it undertakes noble works for the beloved deceased.
Sometimes I take my children with me on my walks. And with what pleasure they pray there, even at the tombs of the dead whom they scarcely know by name! Indeed, these little ones approach still closer to things divine than we do. Many matters that we adults only grasp laboriously are understood by their innocent souls as givens. My little Leo—you know from earlier letters what a scamp he is!—once, early last year, was with me in that cemetery. Its numerous trees were back to life, and brightly feathered birds weaved in and out of them. The sweet, squirrel-like, field mice carried on with their funny games on the lawns and on the paths, and here and there the first flowers were in blossom. The things that were there for the frisky boy to look at, to astonish him, and to question! He would most of all have liked to chase after a gorgeous, golden little bird, in order, if possible, to catch it.
Yet look at this, how he, in total seriousness, devoutly kneels and prays at my side! Birds, trees and butterflies; none of them are there for him at this moment. And so he knelt there with me on many hills. When we left, I pointed along the path to a grave: “Here is where Mr. M. lies, a brother of Mr. F. whom you knew.” He immediately said, “Oh, don’t we want to pray for him as well?” There lay therein something almost like a quiet reproach, as though I had intended to pass by this grave. And yet, at the same time—praise be to God!—there is not a trace of sentimentalism in this boy. Still, he is a child, with an uncorrupted temperament. The belief in a place of purification and the love for the poor souls is, to such a child, so to speak, totally natural.
Love never ceases. It knows no “too late”—even at the side of coffins and graves—but only if instead of exhausting itself with useless sentimental sighing and crying, it undertakes noble works for the beloved deceased. For true love does not live through soft feelings. The sap of love is action.
Your Hugo Klapproth
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