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The Heavenly Chain

The Lord is My Shepherd
M. Pauline Sumerford
Born Dec 4, 1840
Died July 31, 1898

Walnut Cemetery
Unadilla, Dooly County, Georgia
Many tombstone symbolism references say a broken chain symbolizes a loss of a child or loved one. In the instance of Ms. Sumerford's stone, however, the chain does not appear broken to me. Her stone seems to represent a chain in Heaven, with a hand (finger) reaching down from above to bring another link home.

I was actually trying to find a quote of an epitaph containing the words "Heavenly chain" that I'm sure I've seen before (never did locate it) when I found the following interesting information. It's from a book entitled Our Little Ones in Heaven, Thoughts in Prose and Verse published 1858. While I have no idea if it remotely pertains to Ms. Sumerford, I thought it shed light on the symbol of the "Heavenly chain." Furthermore, I don't think it has to apply just to infants, but to any loved one who has gone before us.


THERE is something pleasing in this fact, that every infant that you lose is a link that binds you to the grave on the one hand, and a link also that binds you to eternity on the other. A portion of yourself has taken possession of the tomb, to remind you that you must lie down there. A soul that was related to yourself has taken possession of eternity, to remind you that you must enter there. Our bodies are, through our infants, in communion with the dust; and our spirits, through theirs, with the everlasting throne. We are so disposed to strike our roots into this fading and fainting earth, that it becomes mercy on the part of God to send those chastisements, which loosen our affections from a world doomed to flame. Each infant that we lose is a tie (holy and happy truth!) less to bind us to this world, and a tie more to bind our hearts to that better world where our infants have preceded us...


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The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)