Friday, January 8, 2010

Aaaaaah ... graveyards!

My dear husband commented on my new header photo of a graveyard. I went looking for a snowy church photo and found this photo. I felt the graveyard was perfect for my blog; my husband just shook his head. He knows me far too well.

You see, I have had a secret ongoing love-affair ... with graveyards.

When my husband and I took our one overseas trip in 1988 (the year I graduated college), I dragged him all over England, one graveyard at a time. I had to see where Shakespeare was buried, and Byron, and Wordsworth, and Coleridge, and....

I enjoyed nothing more than strolling through an ancient churchyard, attempting to somehow make out names and dates on the crooked stones. Keith was a very good sport, allowing me to drag him about from one drunkenly-leaning marker to the next. And in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey, I was literally on my hands and knees, in tears, touching the graves of Dickens and Robert Browning and....

In fact, I dragged escorted Keith to soooooo many graveyards in the United Kingdom that when we stopped by DC on the way home, he refused to allow me to drag take him to Arlington National Cemetery, and I quote him verbatim, "unless you plant me there."

Well, my dear husband and I enjoy many of the same activities and interests, but apparently not graveyards. Sigh....

One of my favorite places to pray and study in San Diego is the Julian Cemetery, at the very top of the hill, especially in early autumn as the trees just start to change color. Another beloved spot to pray, journal, and read is the cemetery plot just outside the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, one of the California missions.

So why graveyards?

Somehow a graveyard seems to span the mystical bounds between this life and the next, between earth and heaven. Graveyards are peaceful places, especially old cemeteries. The grass, the trees, the old headstones (not the ones put flat into the ground but the real, upright ones), the sense of past generations and future heavenly joys -- all these qualities draw me to cemeteries.

Graveyards are not sad places to me; they are serene, lovely places where this life and the next kiss each other in passing, where sweet memories of loved ones come by to visit. They are places to meander down paths and between headstones, pondering the thin veil between this life and the next, or merely to soak in the peace and beauty of a tranquil cemetery.

Call me strange if you like, but graveyards are indeed among my favorite places to pray, write, read, or just ... meditate.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I agree with you about the loveliness of cemeteries. My high school years were spent in a house across the street from a cemetery. I would go there to run, walk and play cards with my friends. I loved to jump in the leaves on my way home from school. It was so beautiful there, it felt like part of my yard, like home. My parents are now buried there, so in a way, I guess it is home now.

I also enjoyed your previous post about spiritual friends-how blessed you and your friends are to have each other!


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