Every city seems to have permanent fixtures that we are so used to we hardly notice them anymore. The water tower, the city hall, a playground or two, and somewhere off to one side there is a field set aside as a place for us to bury our dead. Cemeteries exist in our peripheral vision, we never really see them until look directly into them. For most, they are just a place full of stone markers, dates, names, and a bible verse or two. Then, on some quiet summer afternoon you may find yourself walking through one and you may look closer at what’s around you and see that there is so much more to these quiet places.
If you look close enough there are countless stories to be told. Stones contain symbols and representations that mean something to the corpse underneath and the families they left behind. Names tell the stories of who built the towns around you and who worked the land for generations past. The pairs of dates reveal a life that was long or cut short or never had a chance. And taken as a whole you can see the whole community, families, neighbors, friends, and lovers who all lived and died and interacted and built and prepared everything you see around you for without them there would be no community.
Sometimes when I’m alone, walking through the stones, I can almost hear voices saying hello or asking who is president or what year it is. It’s a lonely place, a place where we carve our name in stone, and how long we were here, so that people may remember we lived at all. It’s also a place that once we are there we are left alone, to suffer the very fate our stone was meant to prevent – to be forgotten.
When I started visiting these places I began to wonder what the stones really meant. What is the broken chain? The lamb? The drape? The log? Were they just random designs or was there something deeper. I began to photograph and study and in time began to see that cemeteries are like books. They can be read, deciphered, and even learned from. This blog will contain some of what I’ve learned and where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. In the end I only hope that for a short time I’ve moved these places from just something you drive past to something that really has meaning. These places of the dead can really seem to come alive, like a city. A city of stones.