I’ve always had a fascination with cemeteries – not in a morbid way, but they always seemed very peaceful to me – nothing to do but think and pray I guess? You certainly couldn’t get any more quiet than that. In my mind, it’s a place where you could go to reconnect with those who had gone on before. It almost seems like I would be closer to them there than if I just stared at the stars or sat on the porch and talked to them like I usually do when I need guidance. Wandering around a cemetery, reading the tombstones, I am amazed at the stories they tell. Seems who you were when you were living doesn’t get forgotten just because you’re 6 feet deep, as evidenced by the epitaphs that immortalized and honored their memory on their tombstones. You could tell the ones who had a biting, dry sense of humor versus the ones who were gentile and subtle. Stories of heroism and grief were buffered with the promise of eternal peace and rest. Back in the 90s, I vacationed in several European countries & took pictures of cemeteries during my travels. On my last visit to Europe, my dear friend & traveling partner lost my camera & all my cherished photos, many of which had the most beautiful shots of ornate cemeteries, historic writings and pervasive peace.
I recently moved to a different part of town, and lately I’ve been out and about exploring my new neighborhood and the surrounding community, discovering new “weeds” for our ‘Garden of Weedn’ blog. The picture above is from a small cemetery “built” back in 1870 that sits right smack dab in the middle of a bifurcated street in the middle of our neighborhood. I was struck by how small and quaint it was in size and character, but albeit an important one, as many of the surrounding streets are named after the family that’s buried there. “Dead End”…“One Way”…. the signs say. The irony and the humor of this lies in the truth of it all. Life is just ‘one way’, but it doesn’t have to be a dead end. On the days that I work as an ICU nurse, I get to stare life - and death - between the eyes almost every shift I work. It is interesting to see how people handle both. There are those who struggle and fight to live, just as there are those who give up too soon just because of a label and a symptom. Age is irrelevant. Quality trumps quantity of life. I have no fear of death at this point in my life. I have seen too much. I live my life without excuses or regrets, and frequently with an exclamation sign. How fitting that as I progress through these days of Lent, that I should stumble upon this gem of a cemetery in my little neighborhood – a reminder not of the pain of Crucifixion, but the joys of Resurrection. We’ve all been through a lot – from the pain of physical trauma, to the unspoken and hidden sufferings of our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. We can learn from our experiences but we should never allow them to define or limit us. The antidote to dying, dear Friends, is living. May this holy season of Spring/Easter/Pesach renew your hope and faith that “life” is everlasting.
Audrey Steele, L.Ac.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” (Hunter S. Thompson)