Your epitaph here

View from Mt. Auburn street

I used to bring high school juniors to the local graveyard on the first day of school. As their American History teacher, I wanted to put them nose-to-nose with the “big picture” — History is real people, living in real places, striving to make the most of their short span of time. Gravestones tell stories, and regardless of what they say and what symbol adorns them, they remind us that we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those we love along the way.

The graveyard in Hartland, Wisconsin did not have next to it a marker noting that George Washington rode by this spot on his way to take command of the troops. But it did have Civil War soldiers, children’s graves marked with lambs, lots of pioneering German immigrants, and other reminders to carpe diem.

I’ve passed the Common Street graveyard thousands of times, and each time I am struck by how it sits next to Watertown High School. I wonder how many students have gazed out the window and noticed it there.

The church I serve is one block from the graveyard+high school. We’re striving to take both into view — to honor the past while serving the present. I’m glad we can see both graves and teenagers from our perch. They are both spiritual guides of sorts.

When did you last visit a graveyard? Do you avoid them or seek them out?


About amymccreath

I'm a pastor and mother who loves to make connections between people, between ideas, and between stuff we label "sacred" and "secular." I aspire to be like a Cedar of Lebanon in the midst of the changes and chances of life, but like most folks, generally find that I can really only navigate the tumult hand in hand with others. Good coffee helps, too.
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One Response to Your epitaph here

  1. Terri says:

    My last visit to a graveyard was in May. While driving back from Arizona with my son we took the northern route through Utah. We spent a few days with my dad in Southern Utah (Oh, so beautiful) and then a few days in Salt Lake City, where I was born. Many of my ancestors, including my grandparents, aunt, and mother, are buried in the SLC Cemetary, built on the side of a mountain over looking the SLC valley. It’s beautiful. When I was there the redbuds were blooming. I wandered the grounds and read headstones, some very old some new. I think its awesome that you took your HS students to the cemetary as a way to help them think about history and real people.

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