I got a peaceful, easy feeling

cemetary1Not too long ago, I was walking through Princeton.  It was a perfect fall day weather wise, and the town is so beautiful this time of year.

I had a bit of time on my hands, and I decided that I wanted to spend it in some kind of thoughtful, perhaps even meaningful way.

There certainly were many options from which I could have chosen if “meaningful” were my goal, but my inclination was always, from the get go, to do something reflective.  I wanted to be thoughtful for a bit, focus a little, get some perspective.

cemetary

So, as I walked, I came upon a very peaceful cemetery just north of downtown.  I always feel a bit uneasy about cemeteries, not for the reasons you might think–ghosts, hands coming up from the ground and pulling me in, one-eyed caretakers with shovels, that kind of thing–but because of the extremely personal, sacred ground they are for a lot of people.

There’s another side to them, though, that fascinates me.  As I entered these particular grounds through the south gate, I almost immediately found a stone with a woman’s name and her dates underneath it (Abigail Williams 1935-2001), nothing unusual.  What made me pause, though, was her husband’s name next to her’s, but with only his birth date chiseled in (J. Robert Williams 1932- ) .  His death date was not yet known because, presumably, he is still alive.  That’s some kind of love.  It’s been twelve years and he is apparently still planning on keeping a date.  Some date.

I sat on the permanent bench, made from the same stone as the headstone.  He must come here still, I thought.  I wonder whether he’d mind if I’m sitting in his spot.

I looked around and then back to the stone once more.  I felt a breeze on my face and my heart felt easy. That’s some kind of love, I thought to myself, once more; a relationship that is still going strong, even with death as an inevitable adversary.

I thought of my own wife and my own children.  I thought of my friends and my extended family, my parents and brothers and their families.  I thought of my former students.  These are people I will always love, no matter what.  I was comforted by this thought.  I was comforted by this place.  I was comforted by Mr. and Mrs. Williams and I’ve never even met them.

Thanks, you two.  You still make a great couple.

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2 thoughts on “I got a peaceful, easy feeling

  1. Scott, this cemetery is known as the Westminster Abbey of the United States, because so many famous people are buried here. And — some of our own Methodist loved ones. I find it heartening to visit, as do you. I spent my 70th birthday here, in contemplation…

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