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Owens: A surprising place of peace

Posted: December 9, 2014 7:34 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2014 1:00 a.m.

There is no place more peaceful than a cemetery… or maybe it is one of the most peaceful places. I went to a cemetery deep in the country this weekend and there was no sound other than the wind blowing high up through the trees, and the rustling of leaves swirling daintily. I also heard one caw of a crow and the shriek of some other type of bird. However, these brief sounds only occupied my attention for a split second. The still silence in the air close to the ground left me alone with my thoughts -- mainly thoughts about the dead since I was surrounded by them.

I am not accustomed to being in cemeteries, so I was not sure how being in one would make me feel, especially after seeing the grave of the person I traveled there to visit. Cemeteries I visited in the past were in settings heavily occupied by businesses and lined by busy streets, and those features always grabbing my attention were tombstones and other grave markers. It was always interesting to me to see the birth and death dates. However, unlike the others I have visited, this particular cemetery is spacious. It’s bordered on three sides by tall trees and sits at an angle several feet behind a church. Aside from the church, the nearest active structures are several miles away. Outside of the vicinity of the church grounds are cotton fields and old abandoned houses and barns.

What a surprise it was for me to find more peace and comfort in a cemetery -- a place filled with dozens who were struck down by death -- than in my favorite place to go when I want to escape from reality.

I navigated around by carefully squeezing between graves hoping not to, but probably stepping on unmarked ones. For a brief moment, I pitied those whose graves showed no signs of recent visitation, including the grave of the person I went to visit. Someone who made such a noticeable mark on my life (as I am sure some of the others had) is now forgotten in her death. Loved ones who live less than 2 miles away stay away. Only a vessel lies there but the grave is its final resting place, and I think it is important to keep up the place’s appearance. Ultimately, the grave becomes somewhat of a shrine to those who’ve passed on. I soon thought of how I, and everyone else, will be there one day and maybe no one will visit me that often. If that is the case, I doubt my spirit will be somewhere whining about it. After thinking about it from that point of view, I forgot about pity. I wouldn’t want to be pitied, not even in death.

My last thought before leaving was what a great place this would be to kick back and write, think or do both. I doubt I will be making frequent trips back just to do those things, but the peace and comfort will definitely take me back more often than I have been.


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