Visit to an Ancestral Cemetery

I love cemeteries. I love their peaceful, understated (usually) beauty. Even the super ostentatious ones are cool. I especially love taking walks along the paths between the gravestones, in the usually in the morning or late afternoon. It’s perfectly quiet, with the exception of birds and the occasional car noise.

When I happen across someone visiting a loved one’s grave, their grief is deeply sobering. On the one hand I feel like I shouldn’t be there witnessing their sadness, I feel like I might be invading their privacy by merely being on the same grounds. On the other hand, I feel a sort of connection, you know, we all have people we have lost, and it’s as if by my presence I can say to them, “hey, I hear ya, I’m so sorry, you’re not alone”. I’m aware how ridiculous that might sound. 🙂 I’m just sayin’.

Cemeteries are also a reminder to me to take moments as they come, to love the people I love, to be present and all that. I get a real sense of God’s real love and compassion when I am in a cemetery surrounded by the memories of people who have gone on to Him. It’s in those moments in the quiet morning or even when the kids are jumping over gravestones (and I’m trying to get them to show a little respect) that I know, without a doubt that my Jesus is with me. I think of verses like this one:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

And the old standby Psalm 23, of course.

Thing is, movies and tv shows will have you think graveyards are creepy, but they aren’t, really. I mean, they can be very very very sad, especially in the sections where people have laid their babies to rest. To say it’s sad is a massive understatement, no matter what. But creepy? No. Not at all.

I often find myself coming up with stories about the people buried in the particular cemetery that I’m visiting, based on their birth/death dates, who’s buried nearby, and other little tidbits that might come to mind.

Recently, my family made a short trek to a spot outside of Minneapolis to visit the cemetery where lots of my mom’s family were buried. We took gardening tools so we could tidy up my Grandma and Grandpa’s graves. Overall, the plots are nicely kept, someone mows the lawn and whatnot, but over time, the grass creeps over the gravestone. So we cut it back, sweep it out, hang out for a while, and take pictures. Then we always take some time to tell the kids about their great-grandparents since they sadly never met them. Here’s a few pictures of that visit. I thought these pictures were really sweet. (Also check out the grayscale on the images. I used grayscale=”true” in my gallery shortcode 🙂 )

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