Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Today, for no particular reason, I was remembering how, over the years, usually when traveling, I’ve come across little country churches that were built years and years ago. Some as far back as the seventeen hundreds. And what you find is that it was common for a graveyard to be attached to the church, or very close by, especially in smaller rural communities, with ancient looking headstones lined up in rows.
Some people hate seeing these headstones. I’ve talked to people who get creeped out by them. But I enjoy reading them and imagining the lives of the people whose bodies were put into the ground in that spot at some time in the long past. With the oldest graves, the people who lived those lives did it without television or even radio. Most lived without phones or electricity or plumbing. It was a very different world, and most of them died pretty young. In fact, it is a bit troubling sometimes to read how many of those tombstones were carved out for babies who didn’t last even one year. It was a hard world to live in, especially before antibiotics became readily available, which was less than 100 years ago. Prior to that, a small cut could take your life if it became infected..
But the grave stones that impact me the most on an emotional level are the ones where the writing on them has been washed away by erosion. You might see part of a date, a few letters of the name, but not much more than that. And some of them have literally crumbled into pebbles and dust.
There was this one time when I was in Tennessee, I was walking through a woodsy area and I came across some headstones that you could barely see. They were covered in ivy and weeds and grass and there were trees grown up all around them, some of them had actually been broken up by the roots of trees. It took me a moment to realize that it was a forgotten cemetery. So much time had passed that there was no one left to care for it.
Give it enough time and we all become relics. At least our physical bodies do. Stuff for future generations to dig up and display in museums. And this can be kind of depressing, I suppose. But it doesn’t depress me. It just makes me think.
It makes me consider how little time we really have here on this planet. And it makes me want to spend the time I have wisely. Not in fear, but with purpose. I have confidence that there’s more to this life than . . . this life. So, for me, my life and the lives of everyone else on this planet, they’re all part of a big picture, like patterns on a quilt being made in the hand of God. It's a part of what keeps me warm when the world goes cold.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011