I really do not know what it is about cemeteries that speak to me. It has never been a place of fear, it has always been a place of comfort and serenity. Perhaps one reason has something to do with the fact that my mother would take us to a cemetery (gorgeous in bloom) for picnics in my hometown. It was a past time to sit and talk and read the headstones. And nap.
To this day, I still love them. Whenever I feel upset or down, I find the nearest cemetery and take a little walk. There is one close to our new house, and I have walked there a couple times, thinking, reflecting, clearing my mind completely. Stress builds up, and its almost as if the ground itself soaks it up out of your feet like a sponge.
Sometimes the best and most creative ideas come to me on these walks. Stories, poems, dreams... I wonder sometimes if the thoughts and lives of the deceased all around me are leaking up and into my head. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, as decreed by science. So where does the life force go once it leaves the body? Who knows what lingers and stays; who knows what passes away and to where.
I walked the cemetery today, the weather gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky. I took pictures of the interesting tombstones, stopping to read them, wonder about the person that was once living, now tucked away safely underground. And realize that one day I too will be lying under that dirt, people walking above me, reading the basic statistics of my life.
Just the birth and death dates are not good enough. You need an inscription, a legacy, a word to the generations coming up, something to stand out. My favorite grave of the day:
Uncle Billy's grave. He was a steel worker, and with this intriguing headstone, is an I-beam as a foot marker. The inscription at the bottom (besides telling us he was on the honor roll) gave his life's creed:
"I love my Lord, I love my home, I love my job."
That is the kind of thing that stands out, shows everyone a piece of what you were, your character. These are the graves I find most interesting.
A rule of thumb, a rule of safety if you do enter a cemetery. You may find me silly, but I grew up in the Deep South, and we all have our beliefs. Graveyards are not to be taken lightly. Today, walking through, pollen and dirt clung to my shoes and toes. I made sure to wipe them off completely before entering my car. You never take ANYTHING from a graveyard, unless you know what you're doing (such as graveyard dirt - many things to be done with graveyard dirt). You only leave things at a cemetery. A sign of respect.
If you forget to clean your shoes before entering your car, the most important part is to never allow any cemetery dirt to hit your own front porch or cross your threshold.
Pictures, since I took a few today, I am hoping are still alright to take beyond the gates.
American Gods: A Novel