Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

New life in a cemetery

early sunI have long enjoyed strolling through cemeteries, reading memorial markers and considering life.

Following is another old newspaper column of mine to fill the void while I’m out of the country and with limited Internet access. I do not have the exact date it was published, but it would have been toward the end of the 1990s. Enjoy.

New life in a cemetery

I plop down onto a park bench in the middle of a cemetery, taking a break halfway into my morning walk. Not so much a resting break as a thinking break.

As far as the tree line in some directions, all the way to the streets in others, are tombstones, mostly gray in color but with a fair sprinkling of white, black, red.

Some have been here 100 years and longer. Fifty feet to the north is a mound of dirt some 15 inches high with five flower arrangements spread upon it. A fresh heartbreak, one would assume.

Looking up from my bench, I see newborn life bursting from the oak tree underneath which I sit. New life, the definition of spring. How appropriate a setting for the year’s first real communion with this wonderful season … relaxing in a cemetery.

Spring is a celebration of rebirth. And how does one have rebirth without death or dormancy? We come to graveyards to mark the end of a life. But don’t we also find new beginnings here?

… A family long separated by arguments most members don’t even remember may leave a gravesite with previously warring factions walking arm-in-arm. There are few better places to clearly see the triviality of family squabbles.

… As the body of a beloved is lowered into the ground, those who remain might recall some of the dreams he or she had. Great ideas are left for others to revitalize or nurture to fruition.

… Still another might find in the termination of one life the impetus to gain a sharper focus in his own. We need to be reminded occasionally just how fragile is our existence in this realm.

… And, of course, most of us peacefully lay our beloved to rest in the quiet assurance that this death is nothing more than a portal to a grander place, an everlasting life without pain or sorrow.

A singing bird brings me back to this moment. Time marches on, not only through the seasons but even more deeply into this day … and I must start walking again.

I put away my pen and pad and head back home. Soon enough will come the time I take a restful break here … and stay.

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