Friday, February 26, 2010

Endings, and possibly beginnings

The circle of life
Montreal, QC, July 2009
About this photo: Thematic Photographic explores "The grass is always greener" through next Wednesday. If you've got a grass-themed photograph to share, please click here.
I had come to this cemetery with my father last summer* because I wanted to know where all of our relatives were buried, and I knew my father wouldn't always be around to show me the way.

Sadly, I was right, but I'm still glad I got the chance to explore with him, and to spend an afternoon connecting with him. As I stumble from one milestone in the grieving process to another, it's one of the little things that I hold on to. I've learned that I'm surrounded by a lot of these little things, and every one of them will at one point or another reveal itself to me. I just have to take the time to stop and appreciate them for whatever they are.

There's no personal significance to this particular spot in the cemetery, as the stones behind the tree stump don't belong to anyone we know. But as we walked past this spot, I paused over the stump because the symbolism of a dead tree in this place was too powerful to ignore. I looked for signs of new growth amid the long-since-chopped tree but couldn't find any. Maybe someday the circle of life will show itself here.

Your turn: What is the lesson of this place?

One more thing: Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette captured a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics tonight. Earlier in the evening, our country's women's hockey team struck gold. Yet it is Ms. Rochette's bronze that sears itself into my brain. Because her mom died just after arriving in Vancouver to watch her skate. And despite the fact that the world would have understood had she packed up her skates and headed home, she decided to skate. If ever we needed proof that sport still holds the capability to teach us, in stark relief, the meaning of life, we were reminded of this tonight.

I'll think of Ms. Rochette every time I find myself staring into a dark place wondering what I'm supposed to do next. I'll focus on the things that define me, and I'll dig into them, deeply. Because that's what this hero among us chose to do. Because as hard as it may seem, life indeed does go on.

* I wrote about this day in these earlier blog entries:


Peg Cherre said...

Carmi, I LOVE this photo. You always do such a good job capturing images that capture me.

I, too, was moved by the skater's actions, and by your summary of it. I don't think I'm that strong, or driven, or whatever. We each handle our grief in our own way. That way has to be right.

sage said...

I like your photo--it would be nice to see a sprout off the tree, but then maybe we need a reminder of our mortality and the stump and stones provide that.

Rochette's story was moving and I think we all were pulling for her. Will it be Canada and the US in the men's hockey finals on Sunday?

torontopearl said...

Today happens to be the first Yahrzeit for my father.
I can relate to this photo and this place. Whenever I go to any cemetery, I stop and read the headstones. They are abridged versions of the person's life...whether in the Biblical or literary passage that is quoted on the stone, whether by the brief descriptions and identifiers (father, grandfather, friend, etc), or simply by the dates and names. Every person -- and his/her headstone has a story to tell. Some stories are just told in a quieter manner...
The dead tree is quite impactful an image, symbolic of its surroundings. Yet, that tree maintains roots, too, and the headstones surrounding it depict a person and his roots, as well.

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

What is the lesson of this place?
My own thoughts?
THat sometime a long time ago the seeds from this tree left. Who knows how where or how? But go they went and somewhere...somewhere you don't see.... this tree is indeed carrying on.

C... said...

Even a tree stump leaves something behind. A place to rest. Maybe losing our loved ones is a necessary pause that God grants us to redefine ourselves and realign ourselves with something more spiritually enriching.