We saw him from way across the cemetery.

Sitting on ‘our’ bench, (the one adjacent to his father’s grave where Kevin proposed to me thirty-one years ago) we sat in silence, watching preparations for two internment services. One had a piper, dressed in full regalia, along with two servicemen and their trumpets. Soon, the hearse led the long procession of cars as they quietly filed in, the once-empty tent filling with mourners who watched as the pall-bearers moved the casket to its last location above ground.

As “Amazing Grace” rang through the air in the lonely strains of the bagpipe, we caught sight of a groundskeeper riding along in his utility cart. The other internment site had just had one car drive up: the hearse. The funeral home rep got out of the car, but no one else followed. He opened the back and stood there, just looking at the casket. He called someone, and apparently the groundskeeper had been dispatched to help. The most direct route to get to this site was to drive right past the service in progress. So, we watched as he circled way out from that tent, and as he did, he took off his cap.

As far as he knew, no one could see him. He was completely alone, and outside of the two tents, we were the only people around, and even we were out of sight. But he kept that cap off.

Other groundskeepers were dispatched from all points of the cemetery. They made their way in, and once assembled, gathered at the back of the hearse, and as identically-dressed makeshift pall-bearers, they worked together to remove the casket to its final resting place. But before they did, our guy took off his hat and stood there until the rest followed suit. We waited a while longer, but no one else came while we were there. It’s possible that the simple gesture of removing a hat was the last show of respect for the life represented in that box.

It did my heart good to see that there are still people in the world who show respect for other human beings, even the ones they don’t know from Adam. There seems to be alarmingly little respect for anyone these days, as the shift in focus appears to be turning ever more inward, and it seems, too, that even when there is respect shown, it’s really shown to impress a broader audience.

How true it is that real character is revealed by what you do when no one is watching, especially when you consider that Someone always is.


“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 ESV

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 MSG

The Lord Himself watches over you…” Psalm 121:5 NLT