Monday, January 31, 2011

Joyful Release

This past weekend, I visited Rock Creek Cemetery, the oldest colonial cemetery in the District of Columbia. It is owned and overseen by the St. Paul's Rock Creek Episcopal Parish, which was founded in 1712. This once parishioner-only cemetery expanded into a public cemetery for Washington, DC citizens in 1840 by an act of the U.S. Congress. Since then, it serves as the final resting place for such notable public figures as:
Its historical importance aside, what drew me to Rock Creek Cemetery was its collection of art. Due to older burial traditions, such as burial with decorative headstones or internment in family mausoleums, the cemetery is covered with remarkable sculptures and structures. Today's photograph features an unusual headstone topped with a sculpture of a joyful angel throwing its arms to the sky. The rejoicing angel stood out from the other more solemn tributes and seemed to beautifully symbolize the dichotomy of death. For the living, death is full of grief and loss, but for those who have passed, I imagine it is full of release and joy. Perhaps those  who chose this gravestone for their loved one selected it to be a reminder of life's joy in spite of their sadness.

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