“…lead but to the grave.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Among the challenges I’ve started is this one, not just because cemeteries are a good place to find caches and cachers are going to spend a bit of time in them anyway, but because there is something beautiful about an old cemetery. Note that I said “old.” There’s something distasteful about modern “memorial parks.” They feel almost like the McDonald’s of burial. I mean compare this:
Big difference, huh? On a certain level there is an aesthetic to the old graveyard, but I’m not trying to shoot for some kind of Elegy in a Churchyard ruin-porn type thing or anything. I guess there’s something about these old places that touches something in us that resonates past mere mortality. Isn’t there something touching about a couple resting side by side after a lifetime together? Isn’t there something sad about a large family plot with only one or two graves in it? Doesn’t it feel unfair when you see an incredibly ornate stone sitting by a crude, possibly improvised marker? Or when you see an obviously ignored area close to a beautifully maintained one (especially when you can tell the reason for the difference is racial)? I personally feel a certain amount of pride and admiration at the stone of a veteran, some one who gave the last full measure, and yet an equal amount of disappointment to see a life stamped out so young and full of possibilities, even if it was in the service of the nation.
And yet all of them, no matter the type, say some similar things: this person existed, someone cared enough for them to be remembered, and this is the great equalizer because, no matter how great or how banal a person was (or is) in life, death is the final commonality of the human condition.
And I’m glad that geocaching takes me to these places where I can feel these things.