Yesterday I had an hour between work appointments. I had taken a notebook and markers with me and had a good book in the car if I felt like reading. All I needed was a place to stop.
I hate doubling back on myself when I’m out, and short of stopping on the side of the road my only option was a cemetery. I pulled in and wound my way down the curving road, parking near a tall pyramid cairn of rocks.
I was the only one there. The only LIVING one there I should say. It’s a beautiful place, nestled on a gentle slope that goes down to the river. On one side is a little inlet full of reeds and birds, on the other the land rises slightly, rocky and treed. It had been misting rain but I decided to take my camera and go for a walk.
I was here before, years ago and took a picture of a grave with a carving of Jesus on the cross so worn you could barely tell what it was. It was beautiful, not for it’s content but for the fact of the way it showed the passage of time and weather. For all the seasons it had stood through, hot sultry summers and ice blasted winters. I wondered if I could spot it again and see how the last few years had changed its appearance.
Instead of finding my quarry I was distracted by lambs. The tiny stone kind that mark the graves of babies and children. Souls that never had the opportunity of life. I took a picture of one and then another and soon found myself on a quest to see how many I could find. Each one, like the Jesus stone, worn by the elements, it was hard to tell that some were even lambs. Each one marking the hardship and pain of life and death all those years ago.
It was a peaceful walk with time to ponder things. This place, on one hand so full of death but on the other teeming with life. The trees, grass, clovers, moss, lichens all spreading out, growing and gaining ground. Birdsong from the trees rang out in the still air, letting me know I was still in the real world.
On the way in I had read the sign that said this was a Protestant cemetery, dating back to 1860 — new for many parts of the world but old for Canada. I felt a sadness that death needs to separate people into the right cemetery. That religion pulls us apart right to the end and that act is as much for those who remain as those who have passed.
I don’t believe religion separates us after death, I don’t believe any of us have the full story, only bits of it. I’ve never felt comfortable with the dogma of any mainstream, organised religion. Many seem to serve to divide and conquer instead of bringing us together.
I sometimes wonder if the ‘tower of Babel’ was not a fracturing of man by language, but a fracturing of man by the language of religion. I imagine a tower with many windows looking out to the truth. Each one shows only a tiny part of the view outside. People standing at the windows may see similar things, some see another very different view. The point is that everyone thinks they are right, and they are. Everyone thinks the others are wrong, but they are not.
How much better the world would be if we would stop and ask what the other sees instead of condemning it because it’s not the view from our window. If we learned with compassion instead of putting up walls and blocking the views that aren’t our own.
Hmmm.. I had no idea this post was going in this direction when I started. I better stop before I get myself in trouble!
Today I try and look at others with open eyes, with less judgement and prejudice. Today I try and look at others and know that they are following their life path the best they can, that I do not know their past or what hurdles they have overcome, or what trials they may be living with. Today I see that we are all part of the divine in our own myriad ways.