On a late summer afternoon, under a cloudless blue sky, I visited our local cemetery, Cleveland Cemetery (in Queensland, Australia). The lovely and peaceful cemetery grounds are dominated by traditional monumental burial allotments. Additionally, there is a centrally located cremation garden columbarium.

Walking alone through the quiet cemetery grounds felt refreshing, and almost purifying, for my soul and spirit.

Life begins to be seen in far better perspective – and one begins to grasp what truly counts in life after all. (In looking back, the words of the well-known song by Johnny Nash, “I Can See Clearly Now”, seem apropos.)

Love and compassion welled up within me as I reflected on the lives of people across the lifespan, now lying buried in the graves before me – infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and the aged. All lived their lives in the best way they knew – seeking happiness and not wishing to suffer. And yet, unexpectedly, some lives were tragically snuffed out in accident, mishaps, or war. Life can be so fragile – here today, gone tomorrow.

The realization that we are all participants in life – and that no-one stands above or beyond dying and leaving this earth – takes on greater reality in a cemetery setting.

Visiting a cemetery need not be a morbid experience or depressing outing. Rather, one returns with a more sobered, realistic view of life.

Better to go to the house of mourning

Than to go to the house of feasting,

For that is the end of all men;

And the living will take it to heart.

(Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Alexander Peck (Australia Day, January 26, 2021)