As is pretty well documented, I am very passionate about cemetery appreciation and preservation. This goes hand in hand with Earth Day and a passion to appreciate and preserve our planet. Let’s think about the connection for a moment.
There is the obvious correlation of mortal remains being buried in the earth, or having one’s ashes spread all over it. The tombstones we strive to conserve for the information they contain, as well as their artwork, also come from the earth:
- marble: a metamorphic rock formed from limestone or dolomite
- granite: a common, coarse-grained hard igneous rock consisting chiefly of quartz, orthoclase or microcline, and mica
- limestone: a common sedimentary rock consisting mostly of calcium carbonate
- slate: a fine-grained metamorphic rock that splits into thin smooth-surfaced layers
- rock: relatively hard, naturally formed mineral or petrified matter; stone
- tombstone: stone used to mark a grave; gravestone
See the connection? When tombstones are desecrated, not only are the vandals disrespecting the individual the stone memorializes, they are disrespecting our Earth that graciously gave us that stone.
We actually can go even further. The designs carved onto and into tombstones are often of the earth. Flowers are a large part of cemetery symbolism… the chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity and immortality; the daisy often indicates the grave of a child, or innocence; and the fern symbolizes humility, frankness, and sincerity. Just to name a few. I could go on and on about fruits, grains, vines, trees, and bushes.
The earth is the cemetery; the cemetery is the Earth.
Here are some photos from the couple of Earth Day hours I spent at my favorite local cemetery, Rose Hill. See how it is all intertwined?