I walk through the cemetery alone. My feet tread lightly along the broken path that winds its way through the tombstones. Tree roots have broken through the old concrete in some places, making it dangerous to walk without looking down. Above me, in my peripheral vision, the sky is cloudy and gray, promising rain. I shiver at the chill in the air, and try my hardest not to imagine the bodies buried just beneath the surface on either side of my path, even though I can still see the mounds in front of some of the headstones. The crows constantly cawing from the surrounding trees do not help my feelings of unease; nor do the various statues, staring down at me with stony, mournful eyes. To get my mind off of Alfred Hitchcock, I focus my attention not on the mounds beneath the stones, but on the words carved into the stones. Hundreds of names and dates flash before my eyes and weave their way in and out of my consciousness. I am amazed at the dates on some of them, which go all the way back to the 18th century. I wonder what their lives were like. Who were they? What dreams did they have? What goals did they pursue? What disappointment, sorrow, love and joy did they experience before death brought them to this place, to be buried in the ground and forgotten? I read some of their epitaphs and try to imagine what these words say about the person whose name that takes up half of the stone. "No shadows yonder, all light and song." "He touched many lives, and left with each of them a small part of himself." "Swing open the golden gate, and let the victor in." "Resting." Truth be told, I am not sure what to make of most of them; they just seem like hasty words printed in stone, and many of them are repeats of one another. Some of them are beautiful, though, and tug lightly at my heart.
A cemetery is a place of death. It is the sacred ground where the shells of those who were once living are put away and buried, out of sight, under the ground. Those who dwell there will never think another thought. They will never feel another emotion. Their cold hands will never again move to smooth a fevered brow, chop firewood, or write a story. Their pale lips will never again part in song or discussion or confession of love. Their still feet will never again tread the paths of this earth. They are dead. There is no life in them, in these humanoid shells.
And yet, in the midst of this death, there is life. There is the grass, strong and sturdy and refusing to die, even in the cold weather. There are the trees, tall and intimidating, speaking sorrowful stories of all that they have seen in their sad realm, and yet blooming and coming vibrantly alive each new spring. There are the crows, which, harbingers of death though they are, still live. And there is me, a young woman just starting out in life, winding my way among the tombstones. I seem awfully out of place, as the light of life burns brightly in me. I think thoughts and feel emotions. My hands swing freely by my sides. A song slips through my pink lips. My feet move along the path with ease. I am alive.
Death, robed and hooded, stalks through the fields of this world; he reaps as he goes and takes from the earth those who were once living. Death is strong and all-consuming. There is no living thing which cannot be touched by it. And yet even death must yield to Life;.
"Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…’" John 11:25