Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hallowed Ground

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 


Devi said...

I loved reading this. It made me smile, and get shivers at the same time! I know what you're feeling when it comes to cemeteries. I think I'm ok with them just because I've spent the last 10 years going to one as many times as possible just to se--er well, talk to my dad. I love to just lie on the grass, and tell him what's new, even though I know he knows. I visit my grandparents and other family members. Probably sounding creepy now...lol but just wanted to say, I really enjoyed reading this and respect it greatly. Thank you.

Lenina Crowne said...

No! Not creepy at all. I go to talk to my grandfather all the time. I think they hear and see everything, as crazy as some people think I may be. All cultures have some semblance of an afterlife, and all talk to relatives past.
It's comforting to me, talking to papa, as I'm sure it's comforting for you to talk to you father.

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clew said...

Hi Lenina,

Just wandered past your blog today and enjoyed this post. I also love cemeteries and find them to be a great place of serenity. I love discovering beautiful old markers, too. The steel worker's headstone is awesome!

I just spent senveral hours in some new cemeteries a few weekends ago. Took lots of pics and set up an album on my facebook page. Some people were confused by this interest of mine, but most really enjoyed it. Nice to find a kindred spirit here :)

I'll visit again ~ have a great day!

ClassyGal said...

I love what you said about the cemetery. As children, my brother and I and some neighborhood kids used to play hide and seek there. I always thought it was interesting to see the older markers, a way to see in to the past.

Lenina Crowne said...

And I thought I was the only one. ;) I was thinking about writing a book about cemeteries around Tennessee, any folklore attached to them, and any interesting graves.