Tag Archives: NC

Another Graveyard Reunion

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Saturday was old home day in the graveyard.  All of us who have been to a funeral or graveside service understand that those occasions are, to some degree, social in nature.  The mood is usually pretty somber.  However, that’s not the case on the Friday and Saturday before Easter Sunday if you’re in a God’s Acre graveyard somewhere.

I was blessed to grow up in two Protestant denominations:  Moravian and Methodist.  While I am most active in the Methodist church, I still cherish my associations with the Moravian Church.  To put it plainly, Moravians have some cool traditions that other denominations don’t.  Preparing your family’s gravesites for the Easter Resurrection Service is one of them. God's Acre

It starts with the graveyard itself.  God’s Acre is the name used by Moravians for the graveyard associated with their congregation. It’s reflective of our German heritage and means “Field of God”.  Moravians believe strongly in equality, including at death.  Consequently, all headstones are the same shape, size and color (white) and are flat on the ground.  It creates a truly beautiful setting.  If you’ve seen a military graveyard where all the markers are white crosses, you will have a better idea of the impression you get.  I’ve always referred to God’s Acre as the “most un-scary” graveyard around.

This picture is from God’s Acre in Old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC.  It covers the area down to the white car, across the green area and up the hill and to the right.  The first stone was laid in the 1790’s.

Members of the congregation who are buried here are buried in what are referred to as choirs.  This is a mirror of how they sat in church (in the early days) as well as their station in life:  married men, married women, single men, single women, and children.  The graves are laid out in a grid pattern and are in chronological order.  If you are looking for a gravesite, a date of death can get you a long way.  There are paved walkways between the grids and green water pumps scattered throughout.  We have so many relatives in the God’s Acre here that we’ve been using a map for years.  My cousin’s husband Tod is great about updating it as needed; I got my new copy on Saturday.

All extended family members are invited to meet in the parking lot at 10:30 a.m.  Everyone knows to bring buckets, scrub brushes, cleanser, gloves, flowers and stakes.  Then we divide and conquer.  Family members who do not come are the recipients of disparaging remarks for the rest of the year.  Redemption comes when you show up to clean the next year.  We usually end up going by all the relatives’ graves so we can say “Hi” to the loved ones we knew and wonder aloud about the ones we didn’t.  Along the way, we’re checking out the inscriptions and giving our opinions about the flowers and cleaning job done by others.

We run into old family friends, chat with strangers and rehash family memories.  This year, we spent some time in what we’ve dubbed the “condo” section.  This is a relatively new section for cremated remains.  Same type of headstone, just smaller.  Still beautiful.

On Saturday we had 3 generations present:  my 2 paternal aunts, now the family matriarchs; 11 of my generation, my siblings, some cousins and some outlaws – those who marry into our family; and 9 of the younger generation.  This group included 2 soon-to-be family members – Jen will marry my nephew Alex this summer and Lewis will marry my niece Emily this winter.  If you want to get in good with the family, come clean gravestones before the wedding! Graveyard Tailgating

Once all the cleaning and visiting is done, our crowd piles up in our cars and we head for a local restaurant for lunch together.  Some families stay and tailgate.  Why not?  There’s plenty of room for the little ones to run and play…plenty of people milling around for the afternoon.  Just bring the lawn chairs and your food.  If the weather’s as beautiful as it was this past Saturday, it’ll be a wonderful old home day in the graveyard.

Then come back Sunday morning for the Resurrection Service.  Watching the sun rise over the expanse of white stones, highighted by colorful flowers, is more than worth the effort.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

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Over the past two months, I have had an opportunity to get to know and become friends with a local potter.  She worked for years in a variety of corporate jobs, but never lost her love for or desire to create pottery.  She finally made her dream come true in February 2012, when she opened a pottery studio and small consignment shop for local artists.

I live in the middle third of North Carolina.  This area is home to an extensive network of potters.  The area around Seagrove is a pottery lover’s dream.  You can spend days visiting all the studios and galleries, meeting potters and shopping.  The artistry displayed by some of these craftspeople is breathtaking.  My new friend clearly has the gift.

Creation in progressA lump of unremarkable looking stuff — this grayish, moist mixture of clay and sand — can become anything in the hands of a master.  I watched as my friend sat on a small stool, grabbed a clump of clay out of a bag and placed it on her wheel.  She used her right foot to start the wheel spinning.  She wet her hands and carefully placed them around the clay. A little pressure in just the right place and the lump begins to become something.

I wondered what she had in mind, but I didn’t ask.  I wanted to see it come into being as a surprise – like awaiting the birth of a new baby without knowing in advance if it’s a boy or girl.  In what seemed like only seconds, the shape of some type of column became visible.  Finally she told me it would be a stand for a larger plate that had already been made.

But with pottery, the making of the actual item is just part of the process.  What I have not seen is the detail work she may have added.  I haven’t seen the glaze colors she chose.  I am so looking forward to going back to the shop to see the final product.

It’s no wonder that our lives, shaped and colored by so many inner and outer forces, are often compared to clay in the hands of the Master.  No matter how we hard we work to mold our future, the truth is that our future can be reshaped at any moment. Fortunately, thankfully, the beginning is never the end.  It’s a promise of more to come.

Today’s Weekly Photo Challenge invited us to grab an image from our world that holds the promise or portent of the future.

For some of my friend’s creations, visit pinterest.com/jamestownps .