144/365 Why Cemeteries Fascinate Me
Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is the third largest non-government cemetery in the nation. Within the cemetery on the gentle slopes behind the Gothic Chapel is the Crown Hill National Cemetery. This photo is of part of the national cemetery.
Cemeteries fascinate me. I know I have alluded to this fascination in other posts so I have decided to explain why.
Years ago I participated in art exchanges. A subject is proposed and those who wanted to be part of that exchange would sign up. Someone suggested a cemetery theme and I thought that sounded rather interesting so I signed up. Little did I know it would become an obsession for me. I went to Crown Hill Cemetery and wandered the 555 acres of ground, marveling at the old grave markers and entranced by the family mausoleums with stained glass windows. I drove up to the crown of Crown Hill (one of the highest points in Indianapolis) where the James Whitcomb Riley memorial sits and I looked out over the Indianapolis skyline. I realized that I had entered a peaceful and beautiful place.
The fascination I discovered I had for the older parts of the cemetery made me wonder about cemeteries other than Crown Hill and before I knew it I was stopping for every cemetery I saw as I drove around. I used to tease that I needed a bumper sticker that said, “Caution: Stops for Cemeteries.” I had a friend in Cleveland who knew of my fascination, so when I visited her once, she took me to Lakeview Cemetery where I fell in love with some of the statues and mausoleums. Another time I was headed out to Boston to visit my son and his girlfriend. His girlfriend set up a day to go window shopping in some very exclusive stores. I said, “Please, I would much rather visit the cemeteries!” Boston is much older than Indianapolis and I knew they had different grave markers than we have. I was right! One of my favorite photos came out of Boston.
Every cemetery and every marker tells our history. It is fascinating to see what iconography was important back in the 1700’s and how it has changed through the following centuries. The iconography reflects our view of the afterlife during that particular time in history. From the skull and crossbones of the past, to the cherub with wings, to the draped urns and female angels, and up to today’s laser inscribed images of deer or mountains or whatever happens to be the deceased’s passion, our history is captured on those headstones.
That is what fascinates me; the history and the stories inscribed on the headstones, but also the peacefulness of the cemeteries themselves. Not many people go to a cemetery to find peace, but I do.
I have a Flickr set of some of my cemetery photos.