Sunday, April 28, 2013


I had never seen a sugar cane field burn in Mexico until this week. During the day the perimeter of the field is prepared with small burns and then, when the wind is calm, the mature canes are set ablaze with an accelerant. The fire burns the dry outer leaves and weeds and forces out rodents and other animals who have made a home in the fields.

I went outside the house to dump garbage and saw the night sky illuminated by a large fire across the road. It was alarming at first but the wind was blowing away from us. Adults and children worked together making sure the fire stayed contained. The next day the canes were cut with machetes, bundled by hand and loaded on trucks. Workers then started to get the ground ready for the next crop.

My brother has a fire pit on his land where non-recyclable garbage is burned. We went through my mother’s things after her funeral and sorted them for disposal. Personal items that could not be given away were added to the fire and destroyed.

My mother's body was in a casket for the wake and funeral but was cremated soon afterward. My father wanted a memorial so the ashes were buried in the small village cemetery near their home. Our immediate family gathered on the side of the volcano and prayed before the urn was interred. I am not opposed to cremation but felt conflicted when my mother’s body was burned. But the sugar cane fire reassured me that just the chaff is destroyed by flames. The value of her life cannot be destroyed by any element of the earth but her spirit, love, and investments in family and many other people will endure for eternity.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,
which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver,
costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is,
because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire,
and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—
even though only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15


  1. I had never quite thought of cremation in this way,but that is so true. The real person is not burned,only that part which is no longer needed. Thanks for sharing this. Blessings to you as you now travel on without the presence of your dear Mother. I know you carry her love in your heart.

  2. You tied that in nicely.

  3. I think native Americans have a similar tradition of giving away most of the deceased person's belongings and burning the rest.
    May your mother's love and the beauty of her life give you comfort as you adjust to the loss of her physical presence.


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