September 18, 2003


We lived with a cemetery for a neighbor. It stood on the hill above our first country house. From the gentle crest I once judged you could see three hundred square miles of Virginia valley farmland and the little town five miles east. It was the only cemetery where I knew some of the names on the shiny granite tombstones... the family names were those of our neighbors whose families had lived in this part of the county for more than a century, and here they left their dead. Some of the stones bore the names of people we knew from the little country church-- alive, having outlived a spouse, their name already engraved on the matching headstone, the date left eerily blank.

Cemeteries are places we avoid, but should seek out. We flee from signs of our mortality. We should grapple with them instead, not morbidly, but as a means of reorienting the maps by which we live so that the steps we take in life are guided by the shadow of death. I will fear no evil.

I shouldn't be writing briefly on this matter. There is so much to say, especially in autumn, a season of endings, of turning in, when there is so much dying just outside my door and life goes underground til resurrection begins in January and becomes apparent again in April flowers. But I wanted to share with you a visual cemetery I find remarkably poignant and beautiful.

Don't walk here today if you don't have time to view it contemplatively. Click on each of the tiny crosses and see each season in turn. Be sure you have sound turned on from the very first frame. Regardless of your understanding of death and eternity, you cannot fail but be touched by the photographer's selection of images, his marvelous use of just enough interactive effects, and the wonderful painting of light taken from the beautiful world of the cemetery. Pass it on.

Posted by fred1st at September 18, 2003 05:57 AM | TrackBack

Wow. Just incredible. Where did you FIND this? It is worth the time, a small contemplative moment in a long day.

Posted by: trish at September 18, 2003 06:50 AM

ok, yes these are incredible picutures but what are the little rust colored bubbles that float up from the flowers on the grave? Anyway thanks for pointing this out. I have an interesting relationship with cemeteries. For a long time our nicest park in Lynchburg was the old city cemetery. I still visit it often just for the gardens(especially when the iris' are in bloom.)
But when I think of cemeteries I think of an old family cemetery. I once worked for a land survey crew and we would occassionally happen on a long forgotten cemetery. These occur quiet frequently along the road in rural areas. My trip to Floyd was full of Jessica or I one saying "cemetery" whenever we pass. Usually, these are well maintained by the planted's decendants but occassionally you can happen on one that has become lost. Our job then was to locate it on the map and contact the current landowner. Then landowner would make a reasonable effort to find any local descendant. If one is not found then the landowner usually takes over care taker's duty.I stored this away for future short story that I may someday write. Feel free to steal it if you like.

Posted by: Seth at September 18, 2003 07:44 AM

Rust colored? I got whitish ones. The souls going homeward.

Posted by: trish at September 18, 2003 11:13 AM

And fred sez to Seth:

For real? Come on, man, where's your poetic thinking... they are spirits of the dead winging their noncorporeal way to heaven; or memories of the loved one flying off to find a match in the hearts of their dearest ones yet on earth; they are the tiny empty thoughts that one thinks when dead. I dunno. But I thought they were an evocative image, nonetheless.

Posted by: fredf at September 18, 2003 11:21 AM

Odd the American way of death, I lived in Asia for years and looked forward Oban, the ritual of honoring ancestors with a series of processions and ceremonies. Culimnating in the mother-of-all-parties at the tomb on the final night of Oban. Oban comes during the late-summer full moon...very beautiful and eerie. Oban was when I first saw the leaping Hare on the moon instead of a smiling face.

When I travel for pleasure, the two places I try to visit are churches and cemeteries. They tell you everything about the local people...their hopes, fears, calamities,traditions. Amazing architecture and artwork in service of life's two great mysteries.

One of my favorite epitaphs is not for the famous or powerful, but that of a ordinary woman on a plain granite headstone near my Gran's grave.

"She was our Mother, and she wasn't slow"

Nice link, thanks.

Posted by: feste at September 19, 2003 01:20 PM

would you know a old cemetery in floyd county virginia. my grandparents are burried there. i have searched all over no one has heard of the cemtery. the cemetery's name is wright family cemetery. if you know any information of the cemetery would you please email me. thank you.

thank you so much


Posted by: connie at January 24, 2004 12:00 PM

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