Thursday, September 25, 2008

Visiting Cemeteries

Yesterday I had a conversation that taught me how important cemeteries and gravestones are for some people, even ones signifying the burial location of someone long dead. I went on a mini-tour of our congregational cemetery, and learned about the graves for one specific and large family. The gravestone in question was for a baby, born and died in 1903.

I can remember visiting the cemetery with my grandmother. She would take my sister and I on a picnic there--or, if we were at her house for the day (my grandparents lived exactly one mile away from us when I was a youth, we lived on the original farmstead, and they had built a house straight across the fields the next rural block over--two miles to drive there, but we could see the silo, house and barns out our back window), and we were out running errands with her, she would stop and pretty the gravestones of her parents and aunts. I can't say I paid that much attention, but I think she picked weeds, put flowers up, and maybe other seasonal decorations. I played or waited impatiently.

Many folks care for gravestone in our church cemetery this way. I think there are some people who stop up at the cemetery every single day. As the pastor serving in this parish, I go past the cemetery every day because I park next to it, but I can't say it looms that large in my devotional imagination. I remember the dead, but I don't have a great urge to visit them. I do wander out into it when the seasons change, and of course am out there somewhat often for burials, conversational walks, etc.

It would interest me to know how much overlap there is between the cemetery culture and the internet culture. I tend to think that most internet users live at a distance from a cemetery, and find little reason to visit them. I could be wrong. I also think, and can say with some authority, that the majority of people who visit our cemetery daily or regularly have very little use for the internet.

1 comment:

  1. My grandma is buried in a cemetery along the highway we drive on the way to Joe's parent's house. I don't know that I would go out of my way to visit if it weren't so convenient. I'm really glad that I can stop by and visit, and so pleased when I remember to bring a flower to leave her.