Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dispatch: Fields of Stone

Bond Angel, the old cemetery, Sewanee, TN
(photo: D.P. Snyder)
June 27, 2014, Sewanee, TN -- “The fortified ego is the cause of immense suffering.” This thought is tickling my brain when I catch sight of the perpetually half-open, black iron gate of the old cemetery. There are no fortifications here. The walls of the cemetery are low, lichen-covered and tumble-down, as if the stones had arrived there by accident. The open gate is a sign. Come on in, it says.
The people that lie beneath my feet suffer no more. Their egos were removed at the moment of death, or so they say. The colors in this graveyard are all gray, no matter what color they are.
The central path is gravel overgrown by grass and weeds. I walk down it, and am drawn to a tall, stone angel.  It stands nine feet high, and its stone wings form a symmetrical arc over its head. Its stone feathers are uniform and stiff as the scales of a fish. My gaze travels from the androgynous face to the lichen-coated toes. Below them is a name: Bond, my mother’s maiden name. I raise my gaze to the angel’s face just as a beam of white light illuminates it, forming a halo around the head that is impossibly bright given the heavy cover of hemlock branches. The edges of the angel’s wings glow, ultraviolet. I raise my phone and snap a picture.
I wait. There is no clap of thunder. No one speaks. Within a minute more or less, the intense light recedes. Then it’s just me, alone again, staring at stones.
This is my condition: a wanderer, walking through fields of stone, believing in miracles.

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