So what do you do when two raccoons move into a grave someone else is supposed to occupy? In the rural town of Rockville, Nebraska (When you say Rockville, Nebraska do you have to say rural?), the Catholic Church has a small cemetery called St. Mary’s. The church itself was sold a few years ago to a sedevacantist group that believes all modern Roman Catholics are going to hell, but that’s a story for another rambling. Anyway the cemetery wasn’t sold with the church; apparently the occupants of the tiny necropolis took a vote and wanted to recognize the currently reigning Pontiff as valid. So the graveyard is still ours.
The cemetery is in close proximity to the river, thus the primary composition of the soil is sand, and of course it is difficult to dig a grave in sand. Different ways of digging a place of internment have been tried: shovels, backhoe, a very large cat, etc. All have their pros and cons, especially the cat, but all long as care is taken, it can be done. Also in close relation to the river are the homes of several raccoons. The night the sepulcher was dug the man/cat forgot to cover the grave. That happened to be the same night Mama raccoon had nagged Papa raccoon into looking for a larger dwelling to move the family.
Imagine the raccoon’s surprise and delight at finding a ready made hole large enough for the whole brood; a veritable mansion for a gaze of raccoon. One small detail that Mama and Papa raccoon didn’t foresee was that their new home was six feet deep with walls of sand that made climbing out impossible. This was potentially a permanent change of address. Using the ingenuity and paws God gave to the Procyon lotor, Ma and Pa began clawing at the soft sand walls of the new home/grave. Eventually they had collapsed the grave enough to crawl out, to continue their search for a different and more lively gated community. Meanwhile the burial of the intended occupant had to be postponed to redecorate and re-dig.
A cemetery is many things, but usually not a home for wild animals. It is where we place the remains of our loved ones and commend their souls to God, awaiting the day of Resurrection. The Gospel this Sunday speaks of peace and rest, for the earthly remains in soil and the soul in the hands of God. “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome…Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.” [Mt 11:29-30]