FOR YEARS, CEMETERIES scared me. Not in the sense of ghosts or spirits or anything evil. But rather I cringed at the thought of stepping upon graves, knowing that underneath the layers of earth and of grass, within a box, a body lay.
Eventually my perspective changed, evolving as I aged. With maturity come wisdom and an acceptance of death. Loved ones pass on—first my grandparents, then great aunts and uncles, a cousin, a brother-in-law, friends’ husbands, my mother-in-law, a nephew who died too young, an uncle, and, finally, my own father nearly seven years ago.
With each death, I grieve. Yet I become more comfortable, stronger in my faith, more at ease in cemeteries where my loved ones lie.
I’ve come to appreciate cemeteries as a reverent place of peace, of art and of history.
The peace comes in understanding that life after death brings total peace.
The artistic angle stems from headstones viewed as works of art with words and images sculpted in stone.
History lies in the inscriptions of dates and names and carefully-chosen words, all of which tell the stories of individuals who once walked this earth, loved and were loved.
There is so much to learn and value in a cemetery, in a place like Valley Grove Church Cemetery, founded in the late 1800s by Norwegian immigrants northwest of Nerstrand.
I doubt that I’ve ever visited a more serene cemetery, set high on a hill overlooking fields and woods. This is a place of peace, of art and of history—restful and pleasant, rooted deep in the land.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling