I walk in the cemetery most days; just a loop around the outer paved area with meanders into various other sections. I have made that a part of my practice that started after we moved to Tekoa,WA from Bay Area in ’05. I was the caretaker of the Goldenrod Cemetery in Tekoa for a couple of years and it turned out to be one of the gateways into that small community for a couple of left-wing Buddhists from the Center of Hell known as Berkeley, or so I was informed:) I learned the history of the community and became a fairly visible presence in that town of 800+. Those who know me would not be surprised at me being visible or heard, for sure, in a town that size. That experience gave me great respect and deeper understanding of the burial ground as one center for a community. Later when I became the P/T janitor at the Elementary School, another center, I got a 3-D impression of the history and culture of the town because the kids, the teachers and the Principal all had families in that cemetery.
At this cemetery I have gotten to know the nice lady that is supervisor of crew there and she had told me about a little initiative a young new employee had undertaken to replace fallen head stones, placing them in new cement bases, so their original intent would remain honored and respected. They do this when all the basic stuff, mowing etc: is taken care of. I loved that idea and offered a small donation towards cement mix and some other folks have heard about that effort and also contributed. It’s become a bit of a “thing”. (Donations welcome To Mountain View Cemetery, Walla Walla, WA 99362 attn; Joanna, Headstone Restoration Project:)
The one pictured above appeared a couple of weeks ago, it had fallen/broken off at some point and been covered over by dirt and grass for many years. I was quite taken with the wonderfulness of life and death.
130 years ago, a baby was born and named Demaris, I assume a girl, but have no basis for that assumption and choose not to research it because its not important. A child was born and seventeen days later died. In the 130 years since that birth all of that baby’s molecules have been recycled, some of them many times, and now they will also be converted to electronic signals that go on infinitely into endless space. Life is brutally short sometimes and there is always a purpose and reason for that; naturally opinions vary as to details, Often a desirable reason is hard to formulate in regard to a short, painful or tormented life; yet we bear with the perhaps greatest difficulty life presents a parent because it’s not uncommon.
I look at the stories in the cemetery written on the headstones and the wishes and dreams within those stories and on a windy day they blow by more quickly.
Life is short and
It is long. One step,
No step, millions of
Them, and here we
All are as a group,
Can I help? Yes, that
Is the purpose and
All in One.