I went walking today. Alone. In the snow.
The sun was shining so brightly that I was nearly blinded, and the road was soaked with melting snow sort of seeping across it from the edges where it had been plowed.
It felt good to breathe the cold air deep into my lungs, to move briskly and even to run for a bit, to spend an hour and a half getting the bottom of my pants legs soaked with snow and my earlobes bright pink with the cold.
But I spent a good portion of my time today in the graveyard on the edge of town. I didn't see the resting place of anyone I knew in life, in fact, I don't think I know of anyone buried there. I brought no flowers, cleared no mess or snow, said no actual prayers. I just like something about graveyards. And not in a morbid, or goofy, or any negative kind of way.
I read the epitaphs, some in other languages, reminding those who are left behind that there will be a morning to this still night, or speaking of the love we had for this person whose flesh is laid here. I touch the miniscule moss and fungal life creeping through the names and dates etched in grey slabs. I wonder about the lives of the two brothers, both named George, who were born and died within a space of 10 years; about the family of a child named Johnny whose simple, small headstone is being pushed and unleveled by the great tree growing at his grave; about the background behind the name of the Innocenti family. I feel the air stir against my face and turn, facing East, seeing the sky that the righteous will see when they rise from these tombs one day.
Yes, I like graveyards. I like the history, the peace, solemnity and the hope they have. I like the metaphorical weight of the fact that we honor the bodies that have been left by the soul's departure, that we lay them down in wooden boxes and cover them with dust of the ground, that we do it in an orderly fashion, gathering these beautiful, broken bodies to wait in congregations of expectation. Being there is like being in an outdoor sanctuary. It is like waiting for a birthday, yet not just one's individual birthday, but the re-birthday of all mankind. I feel the waiting, standing there, the waiting of each in the womb of the earth, for the emergence into a world of light and color and praise that will make this one feel immature in comparison.
I love the promise proclaimed in a graveyard. I am pleased to be there, between the rows of quiet lives marked by stones with stories that I wish I could read fully as I, too, wait.