Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Take me back oh hills I love

I've decided that being buried is really just a way of punishing people who love you. If your descendents don't give a hoot about you, they let your grave go to seed and never have to deal with your remains again. The only people who suffer are the ones who actually care enough about you to buy you an expensive rock and maintain your final resting place indefinitely. It's even worse in the crowded graveyards of Denmark, where people have to pay a yearly fee so their dearly departed don't get dug up and replaced with the more recently expired.

In other words, the group spent the weekend in very rural Lancaster, PA doing maintenance on an unused Quaker meeting house and the accompanying graveyard behind. (I felt kind of guilty running a weed-whacker all morning while the Amish guy next door ran his push-mower over his immaculately kept lawn. I stopped feeling bad after lunch when he got out his weed-whacker. Not sure what that was about.)

It made me really determined never to be buried so I'm not a bother and an expense to people who care enough to mow the poison ivy from my grave. Quaker graves are especially weird, since the simplicity testimony at one point had folks measuring each other's tombstones to see if anyone was getting too worldly. Thus the guy who founded the meetinghouse is under a very unassuming marker with only his name, while the much larger stone for "Our Son Georgie" obviously came from a less Quakerly family. I think I'll be super-Quaker and have my ashes scattered someplace so no loyal cemetary-maintaining descendant of mine winds up with poison ivy between her fingers and on her ear like I currently have.

On a more positive note, spending time in the country turned out to be the remedy for the lack of relationship to this country I was feeling around the Fourth of July. Watching the sun set over the curves of cornfields and forest was exactly what I needed to fall in love with this land again. The Danish word for "nation" or "country" is just land, which feels so much more accessible. Even if I can't always respect my country, I can always love this land.

1 comment:

Eli said...

I think it's Mark Twain who has some quote about loving the land, not the country. Or maybe it's "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." Regardless, I know what you mean, although when I think about the land it's so hard to separate that from knowing that my ancestors stole than land through slavery, genocide, and warfare. Gosh, I didn't mean for this comment to end up so dark. Mainly, yes, I like that the Danish see things that way too.