Saturday, July 23, 2011Down Cedar Avenue, just beyond the mystical tree with the owl hole, lies Glenwood Cemetery.  What a great place for a little owl to haunt! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011
As a child, I remember how we held our breath as we drove by cemeteries, so that we would not inhale a ghost.  Back then, cemeteries were scary.  Now, however, I find walking in a cemetery to be peaceful, comforting, and rather amusing.  Inspirational sentiments, artwork, adornments, and plantings celebrate past lives; and delightfully random word play pops up here and there, like this...  
Two twin marble monuments face each other across a lane – HUNT and AGIN.  Apparently, I am on the hunt again.  


To the left of the Agin stone, lies another marble monument – LINEHAM.  Find the clues, and line ‘em up.  In the upper lefthand corner, it is engraved with a Masonic square and compass, the architect's tools, which symbolize God as the architect of the universe, among other things.  Not far from there, I spot another marble stone...


...which makes me think of two inscriptions I'd seen earlier on two other stones – EKLOF and SPENCER; the inscriptions allude to the enjoyment of card games.  As a child, I spent hours playing gin rummy with Gram, just me and her.  
Gram taught me how to line them up and sort them into potential "books of three"... 7,8, and 9 of hearts... 5 of spades, 5 of clubs, 5 of diamonds.  Then new cards entered into the game one at a time, and with each turn I had to decide between picking up her discard or picking a fresh card from the pile.  If I picked up one of her discards, I might give my hand away.  Many lessons learned, applicable to life lessons.  Today's grave markers seemed like a deck of cards spread out across the cemetery lawn, pick and choose. 


The inscription at the base of the EKLOF memorial reads:  LIFE MASTERS/ LET’S PLAY BRIDGE.  Etched into the top of the memorial is a tree and a bee hive, another Masonic symbol.

Walking back over to the Spencer memorial, I find a story.  Steven Earl, Jr. died at the young age of 32 (2010 minus1978).  His nickname was “Snake,” and he loved to fish, play ball, and play cards.  I would have guessed that his favorite card game was Poker.  
His mother, Rebecca, was 19 when he was born, and she died at the age of 28, when Steven was only about 9 years old.  I would guess that her favorite card game was Spoons, and they often played this together.  I wondered, “Why did Rebecca die at such a young age?” and “How did this impact her son’s life?”

Then I walked to the far end of the cemetery, following a short path through the woods, toward a smaller, older cemetery. 
There lies the stone of Solomon Kenyon (b. February 27, 1762; d. September 11, 1857).  Solomon was 14 years old and living in the heart of the American Revolution, in 1776.  He passed away at the age of 95, having witnessed nearly a century of turbulent history.  Wishing I could know his story, I walked back out to the main cemetery, where I find one stone, simply marked LORD... 

Oh Lord, what's a "squirrel bath" doing in front of it?... yes, that is a squirrel bath... and further on another stone is marked WADE and JUSTICE.  Hmmm... The Lord "weighed justice?"  This brings to mind the symbolic scales of justice, and the unfairness that can happen, because of prejudice, greed, and favor.  The Lord weighed justice... Judgement Day.  How are Christians judged before the gates of heaven, and what is one's sentence if he upsets the balance?

As I neared the end of my cemetery tour, I noticed a unique memorial, perched alone atop a small hill.  I climbed the hill for a closer look to find an urn nestled among some flowers.  
This urn is newly placed, and there is no engraving, however, there it is - the final CARD, literally, sealed in plastic and staked in among the flowers.  On one side of the card is a picture of a 43-year-old man, and on the other side are words describing the power of love.  
"How appropriate," I think, ”The winning card - LOVE.  LOVE is the path you must walk to earn (urn?) your place in heaven."  Did you notice that Steven Spencer's winning hand was a run of hearts?  Is he back with Mom now?  I imagine so.

Walking down the hill back towards the gate on Cedar Avenue, I passed a magnificent tree, a cedar tree, with her leafy arms raised to heaven, as in the famous poem by Joyce Kilmer – Trees (recited to me, after the fact, by my friend Tom Greene on July 26, 2011).


I think that I shall never see
                                     A poem as lovely as a tree.
                                     A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
                                     Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
                                     A tree that looks at God all day,
                                     And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
                                     A tree that may in summer wear
                                     A nest of robins in her hair;
                                     Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
                                     Who intimately lives with rain.
                                     Poems are made by fools like me,
                                     But only God can make a tree. 


Leaving the cemetery, I am wondering, "What happened to poor Rebecca?"  I am even more curious as to what I'm going to find on my next walk.





What is your favorite card game?
What are the rules of your game?


Did you know there is a piece of wordplay artwork in Water Place Park in Providence?  It's across the road from the mall, near the corner of Finance Way, downstairs next to the river. 
               Can you figure out the answer to the Water Place cardplay?


Do you know the answers for the other two sides of this pillar of art? 
Hint: The art is expressing an important message about conservation.


Grab a sketchpad and take a walk in the nearest cemetery.  If you take along crayons, you can make some grave rubbings.  Look for special inscriptions.  Subtract birth dates from death dates to figure out how old someone was when they passed away.  See if you can find a good story among the stones.

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