Yesterday’s shrine in the woods was nothing compared to this front yard Samson and I saw on our walk today. I first saw St. Francis, but then noticed Mary and her son Jesus, plus a few angels.
So I couldn’t help but wonder, who would decorate their front yard in this way? Shrubs, flowers and trees all seem to make sense. Statues and figurines just aren’t my style. I love the Madonna (and Jesus), just not on my front porch. I love angels, but prefer the real ones that no one sees. St. Francis was a wonderful servant of God, but no more so than many other unnoticed “saints” who fill our churches each week for worship and live out their faith in the world.
Statues just don’t do it for me. Give me the living, breathing people of God any day.
I (and Samson) have probably walked past this little shrine a hundred times. It’s about fifty feet off the road in an undeveloped lot next to a drainage ditch around the block from my house. I always knew there was something there on the tree, but couldn’t quite see what. Today we decided to take a closer look.
It’s there in memory of Justin, a twenty-three year old young man. A couple of American flags suggest he may have died in military service of our country. A rosary lets me know someone still prays for him. A solar-powered angel-light stands vigil at night. A small valentine sits right next to a small stone reminding us of the presence of angels. A small sign reminds us to count our blessings.
I’ve seen plenty of little shrines at intersections and curves in the road where crashes have taken the lives of loved ones. When words fail us, small crosses, stuffed animals, pictures, flowers and flags announce to the world, “We miss this person a lot.” These carefully erected shrines express a grief in ways that words can’t.
There is almost always a cross at the center of those shrines. A cross that reminds us of Jesus’ horrible death. A cross that reminds us of Jesus’ victory over death on the third day. The church may not be filled with all those who believe, trust or grasp for hope in Christ. But they are out there. They say it with a memorial that speaks volumes about their loved one, their faith and their Lord.