Crosses and headstones dating back to the middle eighteen hundreds cluster, serving as grave markers in the St. Louis Roman Catholic Mission cemetery in Fort Vermilion’s North Settlement (the north side of the Peace River, a settlement that has become known as Butter town). In the center of the cemetery a full-length cross leans against a tree. Not only does this cross provide visual reminder and echo of Christ’s words, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23-24),” but it serves as reminder that at Life’s end the cross will be put down and put away.
Parker Palmer has a poem about that part of Life, ‘When Death Comes.’
When Death Comes – Parker Palmer
When death comes
Like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.
Quote to Inspire – “Moralists who love photographs always hope that words will save the picture. … In fact, words do speak louder than pictures. Captions do tend to override the evidence of our eyes; but no caption can permanently restrict or secure a picture’s meaning. What the moralists are demanding from a photograph is that it do what no photograph can ever do – speak.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’
Listening to – Sigur Ros’ ‘Glosoli’.
3 thoughts on “Crosses Cluster”
Poignant and timeless come to mind here . . .
Very open pictures. Reminding me of other places and times. I Like the grainier middle one, lots of feeling behind it. I like the quote as well, I like John Bergers’ idea of a photograph as a slice through a timeline. With a kind of circle of knowledge about it, bigger or smaller depending on your knowledge of the picture and its background.
Good poem too, very fitting.
Hey there, Jim:
Other places and other times – the thing that got me with this series of photographs was how much Life had been lived by those who now rest beneath this acre of grass. What were their joys? What were their days filled with? What were their challenges? John Berger’s photography quote promotes thought as do your words, here. We make meaning of an image through a combination of sight, recollection, association, perception, experience and by opening ourselves to what’s new, to what’s beautiful – we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to the image. Buckminster Fuller would add that the words we use (our personal vocabulary) shapes our perception. A photograph as a slice through a timeline – I suppose a graveyard ought to contain one’s photograph album in some form. ‘When Death Comes,’ by Parker Palmer was shared on the ‘On Being’ website – the podcast interviews provided by Krista Tippett are rich conversations about Life, the Universe and Everything; often its content is that which Douglas Adams would have been dealing with – http://www.onbeing.org .
P.S. – Last night, I tried a Quebec ale made by Unibroue titled ‘Terrible’ – a sweet, balanced, dark ale.
Take care ….