Thursday, June 16, 2016

In Search Of Quiet

By Cathy

In these times of such horror and uncertainty we need a place of quiet where we can forget for a few moments what is happening around us; a place where we can shut out the world and let our minds rest and our hearts heal. I am drawn to a rather unusual spot for quietness and resting. I am drawn to cemeteries. I know that sounds exactly the opposite of what I would need, but in truth I always find peace and quiet there. Whether it is a small family burial ground, a graveyard nestled beside a country church, or a historic cemetery with large obelisks, pillars, and mausoleums, they all draw me in. As soon as I enter the gate a sense of peace flows over me. As I breathe deeply I close my eyes, hear the birds in the trees, feel the breeze on my face, and just be. I begin to relax.

When I mention to people how I am drawn to cemeteries they look at me in horror and disbelief. They only think of cemeteries as a place of sorrow, but I don’t quite think that way. As I wander through a cemetery I see how much those who are buried there were loved. Someone loved and honored them enough to erect a monument of beauty whether it was a simple field stone or an elaborate marker. There will always be sadness in cemeteries, loved ones are deeply missed, but there is also beauty and history.

I especially love to wander the older church cemeteries. This small white church was a one-room schoolhouse where my great-grandmother attended school in the late 1800’s. The cemetery also has special meaning to me. It is where my father’s family is buried. I can look at the names and the dates on the markers and with a little research, I can figure out how they fit into the puzzle of our family history.

In older cemeteries some of the stones have been hand carved. Slowly the stone has been chipped away as a name and dates were added. I had seen this simple hand carved marker many times, but until I did some ancestry research I didn’t know that Willie H. Collier was my grandmother’s sister. I stood there wondering who carved these words in her stone. Her brother? Her spouse? I'll never know, but it is very special to see this handwriting. Head stones tell a story, offer inspiring words, and represent a traceable history.

Other cemeteries are more elaborate with huge monuments, many of them erected to show the status in the community of the deceased. These large monuments are beautiful pieces of art. Some of the older intricate designs have been chiseled by hand. Skilled carvers created masterpieces on stone that have lasted for generations.

Many family plots are surrounded by stones, concrete or wrought iron fences. Sometimes within those fences are rose bushes. Just the smell of old roses can bring peace and comfort.

Although I’m fascinated by the artwork of elaborate stones, it is the simple stones that I am drawn to. Maybe there wasn’t enough money to erect a large elaborate stone or maybe they were passing through and there was no time to carve or purchase a stone, whatever the reason, they still wanted to honor their loved one.

I always leave a cemetery with a feeling of peace and the reminder that life is very short. I leave with a desire to fully live each moment of my life. I hope that you can find a quiet place. I hope that you can spend time there to restore your mind and heart.

“It matters not how long we live, but how.”
Philip James Bailey


Dotti said...

You and I need to haunt cemeteries together. I, too, find cemeteries to be places of tranquility, peace and contemplation. They are also a reaffirmation of the continuation of life - generations of people, known and unknown, who came before us and make us secure in the knowledge that we are also a piece of the circle of life.

Side note: As so often happens, our FOL minds work in concert with one another. Yesterday I was musing about what to write on my next post and I thought about the tragic news we're faced with most every day and the need to find peace. I was also reminded of Linda's beautiful post a few weeks ago about the same topic. FOL Friends, we need to help one another continue to find the beauty around us and stay anchored in all that is good and right and beautiful even in the midst of evil. I guess that wraps up my post on that topic!

Thank you, Cathy, for such timely reassurance of peace to be found close by.

terriporter said...

I can definitely relate to this topic, Cathy. Like Dotti, I too find cemeteries to be peaceful. When I was in college, there was a cemetery right next door to my dorm. In the craziness of dorm life, there was no good place to find quiet for studying. I would take my books over to the cemetery, prop myself up on a headstone and study! Friends thought it was crazy but it worked for me. Thanks for bringing back that memory.

Anonymous said...

I know we're not alone in our love of cemeteries, Cathy. I love the peace and quiet, the chance to commune with nature, and the sense of history and the continuity of life and family that surrounds me there. The one I visit most frequently here always has others there, walking or sitting and enjoying a lovely view. I always take my camera and find interesting and/or beautiful things to photograph. In Ohio, I lived across the street from a beautiful historic cemetery and arboretum where I spent many pleasant hours. People asked sometimes if it bothered me living so close to all those dead people, but I always replied that I liked it...they were very quiet neighbors.

kelly said...

A beautiful post Cathy...something we can all relate to when the world feels so out of control. And although they aren't typically a place I gravitate towards, I find that cemeteries remind me of the circle of life and my place in it. hugs to you. xoxo

Carol said...

I understand the sense of peace there. i cannot say that I seek them out around home, but I do LOVE historic ones. Star Island, so far away from shore, and so limited in population for centuries had some wonderful old stones. They, plus the pealy painted old Victorian hotel made me consider the generations past and their lives there.
Thanks for an interesting post and some great pictures!

JUDITH said...

I really enjoyed your post. Glad you have your FOL friends

Sarah Huizenga said...

You know I love cemeteries too. They are a place of sadness, stories but also of love. To see how well tended some of the graves are and the special things that mark birthdays missed, anniversaries no longer shared, it is sad but also the love goes on which is tender and sweet.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I love to visit old cemeteries! I live close to Galveston and there are some very very old burial sites. I too like the not so elaborate stones that tell a story, some that cannot even be read...sad, but peaceful in its own way! Your photos are great...I especially like the one with the roses and gate! Thanks for sharing!

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