Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring at Mt. Auburn

Often I've taken a late fall stroll through the beautiful landscapes of the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, here in my home town of Cambridge.  Usually I do it around November 2nd, which is known as El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day. This is a time to remember the departed, and think of the transience of our brief lifetime.  In the Northern Hemisphere, we have the juxtaposition of this day of remembrance in the very season where we experience the colors of death in fall foliage.

But, this year I was thinking, what would it be like to take a spring stroll.  What would the contrast of rebirth, as seen in the flowering and budding of trees and shrubs, feel like in the context of a sacred grounds consecrated to the eternal rest of those who have passed on before us?

Spring includes the celebration of Easter, the resurrection from the dead of the Son of God, and the hope for eternal life.  "If we shared in Jesus' death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him," so it is said in Romans 6.

What is this eternal life?  When does it begin?  Is it like this life?  These are questions that people have asked for centuries, but we still lack certain answers. My pastor has suggested that eternal life is something that has already been going on, even before we were born, and will continue after we die.  Our life in this world is but one chapter in it all.

When I was young, I remember thinking about this idea of eternal life, as something after the death of our body.  What would it be like to go on and on and on and on without end?  Day after day after day after day?  I couldn't fathom it.  But nor could I fathom it just suddenly stopping and then there would be nothing more.  In those days I felt that eternal life was obvious.  We could never just stop being.

As I got older, I've gone through stages of new, more complicated thoughts and, with them, doubts.  Also as I get older, I have started to get the sense of being "tired" a lot of the time, which has led me to think that, maybe at a time to come, I'll feel that I am ready for a long rest, much like we feel tired and go to bed.  Is it possible that life ending is like falling asleep a final time and then that's "a wrap?"

But much as spring is a sign that life is reborn after the winter of dormancy, the idea of life after death is persistently present in both religious teachings and philosophies around the world from ancient times to the present.   Rebirth in the spring inevitably comes about each year, no matter what we do.  So is this something about the nature of life itself that it is self-rejuvenating?  Is rebirth inherently part of the fabric of life?  Is all this an indication that life is, in some way, eternal, that death is not the end?

For now, I'm don't know for sure.  But, then again, spring is the season of hope - hope in rebirth and life itself, a life that is renewed and renewed and renewed, and therefore never ends.

I ended up with a bunch of good photos, some of which are included in a blog post in my photography blog, Urban Vistas.