Chapter Ten: The Burials

Editor’s Note: copied from memory, from The Book Of Vine. No one outside of Preachers has access to The Book Of Vine, except Seminary students. You do not get to keep your copy if you drop out of Seminary. 

The soil’s rejection of the dead had not been noticed initially. Vine was discovered as an Eden, perfect in its geography and features, ready for its chosen to populate. This was true and divined by the Lord, but some clearing of wood and leveling of land was necessary for the homesteads. The first death was a tree felling accident that took Samuel Campbell. One of the unmarried men who joined the Founding Party a few months prior to the discovery of Vine, he was a strong back with experience in the ax and pick. Samuel’s death was certainly a loss. His body was buried at the edge of the forest with a single round rock as a marker. Having no family, his upturned grave was unseen.

By the mercy of God, the next death did not occur until several months later. By that point the landscape had changed so much that no one was certain where the first grave was, so an approximate area was determined and a fence built for the official cemetery of Vine. Its first occupant was Edward Turney, the oldest of the Founding Party at 53. He was taken by an unknown illness of the throat and buried after a short service. Three days after the funeral, Edward’s son was discovered at the grave, covered in dirt and weeping. How can God take him if he won’t stay buried? For there was Edward Turney, rejected by the soil in which he had been buried.

The next death was sooner, as Elder George Polk’s third son, John K., aged eight, succumbed to tuberculosis. When, in the course of her mourning, Mrs. Elizabeth Polk discovered the body of her son, coughed up from the soil in which he was buried like common bile after a mistaken night of revelry, a cry of anguish was raised to the treetops of Vine the likes of which have not been recorded since. The soil of Vine was not simply rejecting citizens like Samuel Campbell or Edward Turney, but was refusing the sons of Elders. 

Now it was in those days—as it is today—that there were three Preachers in the Church of Vine, all dedicated scholars of theology. As the township of Vine was still new, the people were still learning the land. It was in this era of discovery and uncertainty that the Lord spoke to Preacher Casey Wilkinson in the form of a shattered glass shard, and Preacher Casey Wilkinson relayed this revelation unto the people of Vine: My brothers and sisters, this is not the land of the Old World. This is not even the land of the colonies of the New World. This is a new discovery of the New World, and here, believers are not sitted at the right hand of God through burial. Because this mountainous land is so close to Heaven, the souls of our departed are able to ascend to their place in God’s Kingdom via exposure to Vine’s holy woods. 

So it was that the people of Vine began the custom of leaving their dead in the woods. The Holy Funeral Site was created, the forests’ own wood and brush and ground remade, transformed into a space for the dead to present their spirits to Heaven and for the living to adorn the bodies and resting places of the dead with reminders of their holiness on Earth. Each body was encircled with stone and leaves, and pathways between bodies were made by mourners and Peachers together stomping the ground until it hardened and the borders of each body were established. No sitting was allowed in the Holy Funeral Site, as every attempt to construct and place a chair or bench was rejected by the soil in the same manner as buried bodies: a wooden chair collapsing to sticks, a stone bench disintegrating to ash. Thus it was deduced by Preacher Casey Wilkinson that it was a sin to mourn the dead beyond a funeral, and to gaze upon the Holy Funeral Site outside of funeral rites was akin to a direct challenge to the promise of Resurrection, which God would bring about after He decided to bring about the End Times. 

(Editor’s Note: Many years later, before the time of Civil War, Preacher Alphonse Weber was called to Vine. He arrived already an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church, but had left a denomination he felt increasingly slipping down the slope to the fires of Gehenna. Preacher Weber was set in his ways when it came to funeral rites. It is unnatural that the dead be exposed to the elements, he said, slamming his fist upon an open page of the Bible. Thus it was when Preacher Alphonse Weber became head Preacher, Vine again attempted to bury its dead.)

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