In a grove at the bottom of the hill at the end of the subdivision where my daughter lives, there is a cemetery. I don’t know how many people even know it’s there. The way is overgrown with weeds (and full of ticks.) My daughter’s neighbor discovered it when her dog got away from her on a walk. The names on some of the gravestones match the name of the street where the subdivision starts. Was that the family who once owned this land?
The dates are mostly in the 1830s to 50s. The nearby town of Clarksville, Tennessee, founded in the 1780s, was already a thriving community on the Cumberland River with shops and schools. Confederate president Jefferson Davis was born nearby.
We are a moment; you are forever,
Lord of the ages, God before time.
We are a vapor; you are eternal
Love everlasting reigning on high.
I love history—not the history of battles and political leaders, but the history of ordinary people whose lives were affected by those battles and political decisions. None of these graves are famous people. They were ordinary people like me, but they lived and died in this place and changed the face of the land that my daughter now calls home.
Fitting I thought.
The novelist in me wonders about their stories. Did they own a few slaves to till the tobacco fields? Did someone buried here offer a dipper of cool water to the Cherokee as they passed west on the Trail of Tears? How many residents are not buried here because they went off to join the Confederate army in the Civil War and never returned? Or they did come home, to stand once more beside this very grave because it was someone they cared deeply about. Several graves are infants or toddlers. My daughter, now fully nine-months pregnant, doesn’t like to contemplate that idea.
Graveyards have always appealed to my imagination because they are concrete links to a world long past, memories now forgotten. I was listening to An English Ladymass by an anonymous medieval composer the morning when I took these pictures. Very otherworldly. When I uploaded the pictures and clicked slideshow, my computer started playing "Be Unto Thy Name."
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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