Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards.
Samuel Beckett, playwright, Nobel Prize 1969;
born on this day, 1905, in Ireland
Strangely, I couldn’t find anything that I thought was “profound” by Beckett. Well, the Internet isn’t everything it is cracked up to be! But I assume that this was meant to be an humourous line – and I’m all for humour!
I love graveyards. One of my favourite books was/is A Celebration of Death, by James Stevens Curl. It was about graveyards, starting with the pyramids and going up to, I think, the wonderful graveyards of the early 20th century. Alas, that book got lost in my travels. And while I am now devoted to my Kindle, I would buy it again!
When I was a monk, I used to go and spend a retreat day in country graveyards. And when I was a parish priest, I would do the same. Mount Auburn in Cincinnati, Swan Point in Providence, Pere- lachaise in Paris (Oscar Wilde, Jimmy Hendricks, Chopin, Proust, Collette, Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Bizet, Maria Callas, Isadora Duncan – sigh!), Lincoln MA: they all had beautiful and quiet, peaceful graveyards in which to go and read and take cold white wine and a picnic lunch! You think that the World isn’t inspiring to the mind, heart and spirit? Try luncheons like that in graveyards!
One of my favs was the English Cemetery in Rome: the graves of Keats and Shelley. I spent three hours writing there, and just sitting in the sun meditating. I left flowers there for those great poets. My hope is soon to go with Dennis and see the gravesite of the beautiful Rupert Brooke on the Greek island of Skyros. He was buried there at 11pm amid an olive grove. What a Romantic I am – and now I am perfectly glad to admit it!
Death can be a holy and beautiful thing, as I intend to make mine. Dennis will take part of my ashes to Firenze, and part to Montfort where I spent beautiful childhood summers.
Befriend graveyards. They can soothe the heart!