Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amusing Coincidence

After I completed the last posting on St. Paul Cemetery and of the columbarium at St. Paul’s church in Grosse Pointe, I had lunch and went on my walk. Not surprisingly, perhaps, I thought I’d visit the columbarium. I headed out that way. Approaching it from the west, all I could see at first was its wall. As I neared the wall, the strident sounds of heavy construction reached me. The closer I got, the more obvious it was that they issued from the columbarium itself.

“Good God,” I thought. “I just wrote about cemeteries picking up and going away. I wonder if that’s what’s happening right now! What a coincidence!”

I arrived and, indeed, workmen were all over the place, the crypts had been opened, slabs of stone lay in mounds, clouds of dusts rose, the shriek of stone saws rent the air. Good Lord. The two pictures capture the scene, the first from the west looking east, the other from the lakeside west. Clicking on the images will enlarge them. I approached one of the masons. Sigh of relief. No, the ashes were not about to move. The crew had been engaged to add more crypts.

The first shows how deep the crypts are. The second shows the width of each. The names of the deceased appear on the horizontal topping stones.

Even with work underway, the pictures give some hint of the kind of quiet and sheltered place this is. Workmen now rest near the two benches, in the shade, where on my walks I sometimes sit for five, ten minutes and contemplate the past that rests here from life’s turmoils.


  1. Cemeteries are nice, quiet places to sit and think. On most days at least! At first I thought the second photo was of a part of the columbarium which was NOT under construction and I said to myself, "Wow! That's one popular cemetery! Look at all those old men come to pass the time together in the shade and calm." Then I read that we could enlarge the photos by clicking and I saw that they are construction workers not Grosse Pointe retirees. Here again I first thought they were Portuguese masons as one would find in France, but then on second glance I realized that there are men from all different origines. The whites are probably Polish or Yugoslavian or Roumanian, but there are blacks and hispanics too. Bricklayers of the world unite!
    I also marvelled at the wrought iron bench... This is a lovely place. We've never walked there together. Perhaps in November...

  2. The last time I sat with you on this wrought iron bench, I too felt the peace and quiet of this place... Thinking of my parent's and sister's resting place, unvisited by me as yet, I pondered my own tumultuous past and resting place.

  3. Oh, how lovely these photos are, both on this post and the earlier one.

    Yes, life is full of action, motion, and what often seems like constant exercise of our senses. This is exhilarating and stimulating. But, with age comes a desire for rest and quiet. While I only feel that fleetingly these days I imagine that it will grow as I age.

    It's funny though, I always think of the Catholic church as being opposed to cremation. I just looked it up and see that in 1963 the Pope John lifted earlier restictions on the practice.

    One final thought on the matter. In Bolivia, on the day of the dead, a sort of Memorial Day, people take picnic lunches to the cemetery and have big parties. The ceneteries there have big mausoleums in which the caskets are placed, but they tend to be somewhat communal, not individual buildings. Anyway, it is a day of partying with ones relatives, those here and those gone ahead... not peaceful perhaps but, in a way, peaceful in a boisterous, communal way.

  4. Remember when we went into Mexico and stopped at a cemetery--and the way it had been decked out? In those regions south of the border the world flows more easily across the Borderzone...


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