I went alone this morning, overcast and gray. I was feeling the hectic rush and wanted to steal away. There is only one place I know of that will make you feel alive and fill you with a sense of peace at the same time. I walked through the gates of St. Boniface to be met with the pleasant feeling of the sleeping. The noises of the city are somehow blocked out for me and I felt myself meandering slowly down the narrow asphalt path. One of them caught my eye, literally. I swear, had it not been stone, she would have blinked. I looked at her, and she me, for a minute until the call of the crows distracted me and I moved on.
Names carved in stone, faceless statues worn by years of harsh climate, the slow erosion that time brings, the eventual death of even our death-markers, gravestones that once stood proud crumbling in the gray light.
How can death be this simple, this quiet? I see a few other people scattered about, paying their respects to the dead, but other than that I am alone. I keep walking, and soon I find myself utterly alone and surrounded by nothing but bones buried, held safe by stone and chains.
The buildings rise out of the ground and make me wonder who inhabits them. Who planned them out and decided what they would become. I’m sure that some of you have started to think about your own demise. What will your stone look like? Flat in the ground? I will prefer a stunning statue, rising out of the ground, graceful, eerie, peaceful, energetic, immense. I want the viewers of that statue to wonder who I was and what possessed me to create such a piece. I want an angel, spread wings, perched ready for attack, or flight. I want a serene smile on her face and an open book clutched in her hand. I want tousled hair and a flowing toga. She will be barefoot, obviously. More details to come as my life fills up.
Some of the graves are stunning in their simplicity. The names become the focus, the forefront. Others chose a sarcophagus, rising out of the ground. Simple stone statues, the obvious religious figures, angels, Jesus, on and on. This is a Catholic cemetary.
It was beautiful. Green, covered with the orange leaves of fall, gray sky, gray stone, they rise to meet each other and blend together.
There are couples buried together, families. Even in death, they find peace at their side. The idea of this is a romantic notion to me. To want to spend so much time with someone that you are willing to lie for eternity with them. It’s beautiful. Of course, the soul has long passed and there is nothing left but the fragments of your earthly vehicle, yet think about the lingering of yourself. To say that you wholly disappear is not a correct assumption. Your soul may take flight but your presence stays on. That’s for me why the graveyard calms me, keeps me at peace. I am safe there. They are safe there. There is a mutual understanding between the residents, a sharing of space and of time.
Try it. Some morning. Go alone. Let them guide your thoughts as you wander, look at names, imagine faces. They were once just as much a person as you are now, with hopes and dreams and inside jokes. They loved and lost, just as you have and will. Be at peace, knowing that they are as well.
Be at peace and feel alive. That is the most you can do.
EDIT: two of the pictures, the one with the hands and the one with the snow are from Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. The other two are from St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.
I did not take any of the pictures, rather, I lifted them off of Google.com.