Reflections on our Columbarium cross by Don Ramage

When I visited the St. Andrew’s columbarium to see the newly-arrived ceramic cross. I expected to see a pretty cross hanging on the wall, but found an extraordinary cross, moving in its beauty. The center of the cross holds a Northwestern scene of Mount Rainier, evergreens and water within the gold ring of its center, then, passing to the other side of the ring, if you stand near enough, the surface begins to move and shimmer with flecks of light that fade to a deep and firm blue at the ends of the arms, a heavenly cross.

This cross evokes layers of meaning for me. The symbol of the cross, as some have noted, suggests the intersection of two planes, the eternal and the temporal. This cross reminds me of the fundamental reasons I come to church, as a seeker of those great questions of God and life after death. We humans are hardwired to raise these questions as we sense an eternal soul within our temporal bodies. Today’s society often encourages us to shrug off these questions, but the blue cross in our columbarium reminds me of the beauty we may find if we look upwards and beyond.

This cross also reminds me that we do not travel our faith journeys alone, but walk, in the words of the Apostle’s Creed, “in the communion of saints,” meaning the continued union of the followers of Jesus, “saints” in the original sense, both living and departed. On this first visit of mine to the columbarium, I saw the photos and mementos of the departed placed by parishioner families whose loved ones rest there, and felt myself among a large parish family, past, present, and future. I could feel their continued presence among us, and I also felt gratitude to now enjoy the fruits of their labors, both tangible and intangible. Among the many names in the columbarium were Polly Hickman, who filled our church with music and laughter, and whose gifts of mu- sic continue on through our memorial organ. There were the Camerons, the family of the artist who made our cross, Jean Tudor. I thought also of Albert Puddicombe, who left us with a hall with a delightfully Dickensian name, but, more than this, purchased the land on which the church stands; of Ada Webb, whose gift to St. Andrew’s in her will enabled a wing to be added to what was then a small mission church.

St. Andrew’s being a down-to-earth and welcoming community, even those of us who, like me, who are relative newcomers to St. Andrew’s, can soon feel ourselves on the inside of this extended family. Reflecting on these gifts of those gone before us, we must also reflect on how we will extend our hands across time and generations—a timely meditation, as we finish our annual parish meeting. How will we find and support the saints of the future —remembering, as the apostle Paul noted, that we are all adopted into this family? With God’s help, what labors of love will we leave for those saints who come after us?