Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thoughts from a New England Cemetery

Both Dan and I are in love with the forests - Pacific Northwest, New England - both share the lush trees that give clean air and block the noise of the traffic and give a feeling of being "cushioned" from overpopulation of houses and cars and buildings and signs.

People claim that we are overpopulated, but I don't believe that. Not overpopulated with people, anyway. Maybe with material stuff, with greed and selfishness, with garbage. With people who can't live in harmony with others, and with nature. But the earth is there to be populated. Maybe the people who claim overpopulation don't believe in a creation: don't believe that the earth was created for mankind. Maybe they believe we are an accidental animal borrowing time and space from the earth - the earth, which was created...for what?


Anyway, Dan and I went east to New Hampshire to witness the marriage of Dave Dorman and Karissa Stanton. They had a beautiful ceremony. My favorite part was the reading of their vows to one another. It was beautiful, the kind of words that should be recorded in the heart of all married couples. My least favorite part was the photographers: moving in front and around everyone, clicking away at their cameras incessantly, even during the prayer. It felt wrong for them to do that, and I felt the guilt of it -- simply for being a fellow photographer.

The wedding was in a chapel built in 1908. Vaulted arch ceilings, stone walls and floor. Stained glass windows -- simple, not ornate -- letting in a natural light which glowed soft and clean and gave an intimate warmth despite the stark, stone interior.

Behind the church is an old graveyard where a peach-ish light from the setting sun shone through moss-covered headstones. I couldn't help myself: I photographed it.

Am I like the photographers: pursuing an image blindly, heedless of my environment, marring the very event I am there to honor? I am photographing the resting places of the dead, walking upon the grass that covers their heads and feet. Do I walk behind the headstones or in front? I never know where to walk in a cemetery. Do I -like the photographers- also tread into disrespectful territory, unaware or uncaring that I have crossed a line?

It didn't feel so; It felt reverent, holy, surrounded by the beauty of God and of life and light passing into something else. Changing. To be reborn again in another time or place.

Am I doing what life is meant to do: walking upon the dead, admiring and documenting the beauties of life as it continues? As I continue?