August 15, 2005

A walk in the cemetery – part 2.





phillywalker said...

Great photos, Ann. I've always enjoyed walking through cemeteries, reading the markers, etc., and yet I have no desire to have one of my own. Cremation or green burial would be fine with me.

When I talk to people who disagree about this, their reason is often, "But it's important that we remember the dead, that we create a memorial." Well, I'm not so sure about that - but even if I accepted that reasoning, how is a headstone a memorial? I mean, I've walked through cemeteries literally hundreds of times (I lived across the street from a nice old one, and went there almost every day for exercise.) I read lots of those stones, every day. Since I didn't know the people, I can't say I remembered them. You might argue that their families could drop by and "remember" them. But in fact, hardly any family members ever came by, even on holidays like Memorial Day. I don't visit the cemeteries of any of my family members.

So how is a big block of stone proclaiming "Smith" to the empty sky a memorial, exactly? Isn't it a memorial only if someone reads it and knows who this Smith was?

Having said that, I did appreciate reading the really old stones (the ones that were still legible) and pondering the often short and probably difficult lives of people who lived in the 1700s and 1800s. I suppose that is some kind of remembrance, not of individuals so much as of an era.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

For Catholic funerals, there is a prayer at graveside that says something to the effect of "Jesus, by being in the tomb for three days hallowed the graves of those who follow Him." In essence, there's no place that we go which He hasn't also gone, even to the grave, which is now a holy place. This may be why a formal burial is important to some of us still.

phillywalker said...

I can understand and respect a religious reason for wanting a particular kind of burial. It's just that cremation and green burial also seem formal to me. (Actually, burial at sea, at least the movie version, has always seemed pretty solemn and formal and impressive to me.) And if my goal were to be buried as much as possible like Jesus was, I guess the green burial option (wrap the body in a shroud and put it in the earth, without embalming, caskets, tombstones, etc.) would be the one to pick.