Wednesday, August 25, 2010

let them

I had promised my kids that during this visit to Connecticut, I’d take them to the old spooky graveyard near the house where I grew up. After dad died, I wasn’t sure if they would still want to go. Thankfully, there had been no cemetery involved with my dad’s services, so although I’m sure the association of death and burial was naturally tied in with the idea of this old graveyard; it didn’t have any real connection to their grandfather for them. For me. So we went.

It wasn’t easy to park near the spot I had in mind, but my Godmother had told me about another place very close by that had more space and a nice garden. A spooky old graveyard’s a spooky old graveyard, I figured. We’d blow through and get home to mom’s in time for 5:00 cocktails.

The first bit was as expected, very old and eerily phrased markings on the stones left to honor lost loved ones.

Some were more ornate

Some were heartbreakingly simple

By the side of East Avenue on that hot summer afternoon, we perused these relics and couldn't help but let our minds wander to the loved ones that had been left behind. How they must have felt, much as we did on that day, when they had lost Mary and Stephen and poor old D.L.M.

Grief knows no century, no wealth, no cause. It's just a big gaping hole where your Dad is supposed to be.

We continued along through the churchyard, toward the gardens out back.

It was really beautiful there, all that old stone and grass and lovingly tended plants.

We found ourselves in the healing garden:

A place to medidate in search of better days

I started to feel pretty happy there. I found such glee in the meditations that faced you when you sat on those benches surrounded by purple hydrangeas:

Albert Einstein, Saint Augustine, a Maori proverb, and of course, Dolly Parton.

Who could help but find healing in this place?

Further along the footpath, we came upon a labyrinth laid in stone among more lovely greenery. There was a welcoming sign of explanation:

The photo quality is poor. If only I had a Mistah along. Here's a closer look at the welcome sentiment:

Okay, so it's a totally cool, beautiful labyrinth! Considering ourselves sufficiently capable of figuring out how to use a labyrinth, we read through our welcome and just skimmed the "how to" section at the bottom of the sign long enough to see that it was suggested that we remove our shoes to feel the pavement beneath us more completely.

Shoes off? Check.

We started at what appeared to be the beginning:


and slowly, thoughtfully began to weave our way around...

and around....

and around until we reached the spot at the very center.

Feeling pavement completely? Check.

That was nice. Easy. Now what?

We went back for another look at the guidepost, maybe there was a special challenge we could undertake.

I read this bit out loud:

Turns out, children will often race through the labryinth

finding joy, solace

comfort, peace, satisfaction...

If you let them.

We ran through it over and over. For Dad, for Mom, for Mumsie. For ourselves. It was, to quote a great mind, "weirdly awesome."

St. Paul's on the Green, Norwalk, CT


Pickles and Dimes said...

What a lovely, lovely place to go to remember loved ones.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, Jacquie, I love this so much. I feel like I'm right there with you guys. I love how kind and accomodating and welcoming and freeing those signs are. What a magical spot!

And thank you. My mind has been called many many things over the years but I'm not sure "great" has ever made the list until now. Even if my quote did refer to that wacky monkey bread dessert.

Love you.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Gorgeous! I love it. Wish I could visit today. And I absolutely love and agree with that first quote from Shota Rustareli.

It's funny, we visited the cemetary where my dad is buried just last week -- took the kids there for the first time. They loved it. No cool meditation garden or labyrinth though...

Great post!


Mom C said...

We lived right around the corner from this place and never knew it was beautiful. I love it. love you mom

Tami said...

Beautiful! I love this - you are going to have to start binding these blogs in book form.

I haven't been to St. Paul's for years but am going to bike there soon. With both of my kids going so far away soon, I need a kind place.

Old cemetaries seem to be magical spots for kids. Aidan still recalls the time I took him to the "cool cemetary that you could get ice cream at"....This was actually the old East Norwalk cemetary with Gov. Fitch and many members of the Betts family buried there. And it's across the street from Sweet Ashley's.

Thinking of you,