I went back home last weekend to West Virginia. Yes, it is ‘almost heaven’. Do you see the wall of trees behind the welcome sign? That is what I saw for days of driving. Nothing but hills and trees and sky. My home state. Country roads. They took me home. I belonged there. John Denver knew.
It has been a long time since I drove back home. I’m so glad I did. The rolling hills are dramatic. Don’t take your eyes off the road, because every twisting turn in the crooked roads has a breathtaking view.
Vermont comes close to this grandeur. It is breathtaking. Just me and the hills of West Virginia. The memories were a warm blanket. Almost heaven.
I have vivid memories of driving on old Rt 60 in our family station wagon. There were houses built on ‘near cliffs’, as the hills were so steep. We worried going uphill, as the old car barely hit 30 MPH. If you like the roller coaster, you would love this drive. No one in the family liked the drive. I was the one who got car sick.
When the interstate was built, it felt like going from horse and buggy to driving a car. The most interesting part is seeing how on earth they engineered putting roads straight through hills. Imagine a huge hill, cut through the middle. Here is our approach to one:
There is another ‘almost heaven’ to my visit.
My brother died in December of 2019, and we hoped for a spring funeral. Covid hit, and the funeral was on hold for what seemed like forever. At last, all my sisters gathered this past weekend.
Our brother’s funeral was a gift, a chance to be together. We laughed and cried. We told old stories and looked at pictures. It was the spark of a flint and a cozy blanket, all together. We were sisters. It felt so good.
The funeral was at Trinity Episcopal Church where we had all grown up. I was married in that church, and my sisters were, too. Nothing had changed. The stairs were exactly the same, and that made me smile. Walking up and down brought memories from childhood to adulthood. Almost heaven.
I was a reader during the service. Somehow my words were the best things to say.
1 John 3:1-2
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
I practiced the reading many times. It felt right. I knew when I read to the congregation, that for my brother it wasn’t ‘almost’, it was heaven.