Ruminations of an Old Cemetery Caretaker
As of late I have been employing myself in the rehabilitation of our Masonic lodge’s cemetery. In Masonic terms I am availing myself to the dissemination of my obligatory masonic wages. In other words, I am donating my time and labor by laboring in the quarries for the edification of my masonic character. In short, it needed doing and I am retired with time and knowledge and a “Can Do” attitude.
It has been a somewhat simple task: I installed a new door in an old building or shed on site. It was built around 1900 and was constructed with adobe brick and river stones. I repaired the little porch and repainted it. I then moved over to our new “Columbarium”, There I installed an irrigation system and planted some shrubs; Sage, Lantana and Oleander. I then addressed myself to the sprinkler system which was in dire condition.
The city used to maintain our part of the cemetery because they used our tax free water and sprinkler system pump but the pump broke down and I guess they got their own water because they informed us that we would need to tend to it from now on. We have since hired someone to keep it mowed but I am addressing its other needs.
I have replaced most of the sprinkler heads with above ground sprinklers that water above the tombstones trying to address the dry areas that weren’t getting water. Most of the old stuff was broke or cracked underground and was just gushing up around the old sprinkler heads. All this was easy. I got me a piece of carpet and would just lay down and dug a hole, fixed the leaks, then replace the sprinkler.
Now I am addressing the tombstones themselves. Most of them have settled or became tilted. I have been using just boards to pry and lift and push dirt underneath, but this is exhausting. I did some research online as to how to build a tripod. Seems like I need to buy some pipe and drill some holes and use the tripod and my come-a-long to lift and level them. A work in progress, if I am able. What more has a seventy-one-year-old man to do?
My wife asked me why I was doing this? She remarked that I have my own yard to maintain. I scratched my head and pondered. Why climb a mountain is a phrase that is applicable? Because it’s there! Maybe because all these deceased no longer have people who are alive that remember them or visit their graves to leave flowers. It is not an act of love but one of respect in my case. Soon I too shall have my ashes interred in the Columbarium. The flowers and shrubs I planted will add some ambiance as someone sits on the bench to mourn or meditate. I live in Laredo Texas so my children nor my grandchildren will ever visit. I can only assume my wife will visit and leave a flower in remembrance.
Such is life my friends. I will not be there anyway. My spirit will have soared to worlds unknown. The secret to the Kingdom of Heaven is: We are Spirit! I will return to “from whence I came” as we masons say. I don’t need a body, that is a Christian, Jewish, Islam thing. I don’t want to be raptured up in a decayed corpse. I will be already there in the Ether. This old body is just a bunch of 14.7-billion-year-old atoms that were created at creation. My spirit was also born then, and I am eternal, tumbling down thru the eons of time. I have been a plant, a vegetable, a bird and an animal and now I’m a man, so why should I fear death? That doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian. Being Christian was the way I was raised and my culture. God is not a white-haired old man sitting on a cloud somewhere. God is unknowable, undefinable, unmeasurable and inexplicably a mystery, God is that he is! In fact, I would not even ascribe a gender. In God’s own words, “I Am That I Am!”
I am not a religious man, but I am a moral one. If I don’t see it in Nature (Mother Nature) then I presume it is perverted in some sort of way. All the laws and rules man make up to govern his life are what he thinks God’s plans are thru some sort of mystical revelation. Mankind’s laws and rules were inspired by God, not dictated.
To wrap this up: What does God require of you? “But to love kindness, to do justice and walk humbly with your God.” I will leave you with a poem I wrote which I think is quite good.
The Stone Garden
by Greg Moore, Jan. 2015
I gaze upon a garden all quiet and serene,
Sun reflecting off the sand’s gritty sheen.
On mounded earth sits an errant crow,
Its perch garlanded by faded ribbons and bows.
Love ones nurture this barren ground,
Watered only by our tears, endless sorrow abounds.
From this ground grow only cold grey stones,
Their roots, broken vases and moldy old bones.
I tread softly to avoid the seashells
Denoting a person’s long forgotten knell.
From the grave I hear the haunting sigh,
As you are now so once was I.
Memories ripen here like fruit on the vine,
Softened by remembrances of a lifetime.
Soon we, like them, shall wither and fall.
We fade like flowers, our epitaphs call!