Today, I visited one of the cemeteries in Calgary. Part of myself has been nagging me to go, and today was a lovely day to go. I've never been to a cemetery when there is ice and snow on the ground, and I kept slipping as I walked up the hill.
Cemeteries are something that I really care about. They are peaceful places, a strong connection between ourselves and the natural world. Epitaphs are fascinating, and offer insight. Some markers are biographies, others are elusive mysteries.
While I was wandering through one of the older parts of the cemetery, I came across one plot, of a young woman. I believe her name was Emily... or something close to that. I was shocked to discover that there was rubbish and filth everywhere. I don't know if people maintain any connection to their body after death, or keep an eye on their grave, or what any aspect of the after life is. I can't speak, and I don't really have an opinion. However, I do believe that symbols are to be respected. Especially the symbol of a person that was. They may just be a pile of bones, but that tombstone represents who that person was. It marks how long they were on this earth, and how much they meant to others, and all of these other aspects. To disrespect that... To deface such things, even just by leaving garbage... I don't understand it. It deeply upsets me. I cleaned up the garbage, and put it in one of the waste receptacles. It made me feel so sad. After I cleaned up several empty pill bottles, some abandoned earphones, some plastic alcohol bottles, a sock, and a glove, I wandered the cemetery until I found this small stone Church, tucked into shrubs and trees. It was such an idyllic scene, in the context of what a cemetery often instils. Or, rather, what the idea of a 'Churchyard' looks like. I'm not explaining it very well, but it reminded me of a poem by Walter De La Mare. I can't quite remember the title, but it is about a cemetery in a churchyard. It is so tranquil and haunting, and comforting in the calmness of the poem. That is what I thought of when I came upon this small Church.
A few minutes later, I made my way back down the hill. I hadn't realized it, but I had been in the cemetery for almost an hour.
At the bottom of the hill, I saw something that saddened me. Several beer cans, and dozens of cigarette butts. A few bits of rubbish, like chip bag. This was away from the grave plots, but it should still be a sacred spot. It's part of a rock garden, with all of these trees, whispering away. I gathered up the garbage, but there wasn't a rubbish bin in sight. I couldn't carry all of it. Not to mention that I didn't want to just throw away that many cans. I placed them by the road, in hope that someone would see them and gather them. I have no idea how often the cemetery is maintained during the winter. Must not be often because of all of the ice. Still, I'm a hopeful person.
I left a note for the caretaker, just in case. The whole situation just saddens me. Perhaps I'll go back more regularly... With a small garbage bag and gloves. Littering is bad enough as it is... but why in a cemetery.