“The Paths of Glory…”

“…lead but to the grave.”
-Thomas Gray
  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:


to 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.

4 thoughts on ““The Paths of Glory…”

  1. Hello from Houston! I found your blog in the Geocaching Vlogger’s live-stream on 6/3/2020. I have an ambitious goal of reading all of your posts! It may take me a while.

    I noticed that you’re in central Texas (I think). I grew up there and cached there a lot until work relocated me to Houston. If you’re up for it, I would love to go caching sometime when I get home to see my parents.

    With regards to this particular post, I absolutely agree that cemeteries are beautiful, thought-provoking places. I’ve found the challenge you linked to here and am (intermittently) working on TattooBarbie’s higher level challenges (i.e. I have a running and growing list of Texas cemetery caches).

    I look forward to reading more. Take care, happy caching, and God bless!
    ~ Sean “myrthman”


  2. You put that so beautifully! I love the old cemeteries and would often stop to look and admire and reflect even before I started geocaching. So, finding a cache is just a bonus to the experience.


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