Beckoned by the image of a stone figure I had recently seen in a publication, I decided to make a trip to the cemetery on my birthday-- for artistic purposes, I thought. However, as I entered the graveyard gates, I questioned my choice. Visiting a cemetery on my birthday seemed rather macabre.
But that day, I was in search of a bit of beauty, an aesthetic experience that would alter my somber mood. A case of melancholy, the holiday sort that arises despite one’s best intentions, had descended upon me after Thanksgiving. Although I began my birthday buoyed by the kind well wishes of others, I thought I should also look to myself to refresh my flagging spirit.
I’m sure it seems odd that I would select a cemetery to lighten my disposition, but I had received creative callings from cemeteries before. In previous excursions, I had marveled at the beauty of aged statuary set amongst whitewashed winter pastures and wind swept wildflowers. Those visits had been saturated with a certain, silent sanctity. They had been anything but macabre.
The same proved to be true for my birthday trip, even when the intended object of my search eluded me and my allotted time grew short. It was an exceptional winter day, unseasonably warm and bright- another gift, in a day filled with many.
Yet, it wasn’t the fine weather or the serene setting that affected me most, but instead, my chance gaze toward an unassuming tombstone inscribed with a birthdate similar to my own. Quite suddenly, all my little birthday indulgences, both offered and received, spoke to the deliciousness of life. Everything was aglow, much like the still, stone form outlined in the fading December light.
I am a seeker of simple beauty, but at times, I question my commitment to the aesthetic life and its demands for attention. However, recently, when this insistent uncertainty arose yet again, an unsolicited thought emerged-- if not for beauty and its exhortation of joy, why does the flower thrust itself forth from the crevice . . . why does the despised weed bloom?
May the holiday season offer you many blessings and a bit of beauty of your own. -l