Anyone who knows me knows that, despite my Southern upbringing, I’m not a religious person. I do have spiritual moments, though, typically about the beauty, magic, and mystery that life sometimes holds. Last month, I had the good fortune of enjoying a good dose of all.
We were down in Worcester, Massachusetts, to attend an intimate wedding of my good friends Carla and Deb. The wedding itself was rife with beauty and wonder, perhaps amplified in the absence of any ostentation or needless formality. The ceremony was everything a wedding should be: two people in love formalizing their commitment to each other in front of a few good friends. The minister was also just as they all should be: confident in his conviction that the goodness of love trumps all piety and pretense and that curiosity and humility are what keep us human and give life meaning.
The wedding alone made for one fantastic day, but a slight detour added so much more.
After the wedding, a few GPS-fueled scenic detours, and a laughter-filled lunch, we ventured into an awesome cemetery nearby. It had initially caught my eye as a potential backdrop for some post-nuptial photos of the happy couple, since the trees were in full autumn blaze, against the solemn grays of the headstones. It turned out to be so much more than a simple backdrop.
What had seemed to be a modest shaded cemetery, covering perhaps a city block, turned out to be 40 acres of peace and beauty, with just a touch of mystery. At first, there seemed to be a sense of sadness in the foliage screaming for attention from an audience who could no longer applaud its beauty. But it didn’t last long.
The place never felt lonely or devoid of activity. The lives of the interred lingered there, telling us stories—some somber and solemn, but many beautiful and full of adventure and laughter. Some were hushed with secrecy, making it feel wrong to listen. There was a history lesson or two, as well. Sure, our visit was also relaxing, removed from the noise of traffic and shrouded in the rustling leaves. But the whole place seemed as much alive as any other gathering of souls, and we were only there to observe and listen while putting our own stories on hold.
We took our photos, of course. But more than that, we visited old friends we didn’t even know we had. I have a feeling Carla will be visiting them often—and they’ll be happy to have her!