Monday, March 8, 2010

Memento mori sed memento vivere

For those folks whose Latin is a little rusty, today's post title translates as "remember that you must die but also remember that you must live."

Today I walked down to the St. James Episcopal Church here in Arlington, the oldest episcopal church in Vermont. The adjacent churchyard has graves in it which date back to the late 1700s, and I discovered today it's a pretty fascinating place to walk around in. The gravestones vary from the simplest markers to works taller than I am. Some just have the basics carved on the front, while others are ornately engraved with scrollwork and final messages. One man is buried with his first and second wives flanking him on either side, which had me envisioning all sorts of interesting conversations between the three in the afterlife. Other graves were accompanied by smaller stones with heartbreakingly brief spans between the dates of birth and death.

In this shot, I liked the way the stones looked against the dead leaves on the ground:

One of the most unique graves I came upon, bearing just a single name:

The carving on the top of this stone is one I saw several versions of throughout the churchyard:

Due to wear and time, this one almost looks like a photo negative of a gravestone:

A closer look at the engraving halfway up the spire:

I took this photo of the back of a grave because I loved the look of the aged marble:

Looking up at one of the taller stones

In a lovely moment of serendipity, just after I'd begun taking pictures a very kind older couple walking by took a moment to tell me about something they'd spotted nearby: a group of snowdrops, one of our first indicators of spring, growing at the base of a pine tree next to the church. After all, what better way to accompany photos of items synonymous with death than with the quintessential symbol of life beginning anew?


  1. What awesome history to which you have access. That's a classic looking graveyard and I love the antiquity of the headstones.

    Very heartened by the first sign of spring in the snowdrops.

  2. Just gorgeous! I recently read "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, and it featured gravestones similar to that of Mrs. Lois Benedict.