I have just returned from a pleasant few days in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. The Tweed Valley is quite magical, formed, as it is, from the caldera of a monstrous volcano and fringed with oddly shaped peaks – volcanic plugs, remnants of once-towering mountains.
Their beauty is evident and infinitely beguiling, but there is wonder to be found in less obvious corners, a solemn kind of beauty which marks the slow march of time in the twilight places.
This, I found in a country graveyard, where my friend and I took an afternoon walk. I wandered among the headstones, marvelling at the patterns of lichen, bathed in the quiet tranquillity of the late Spring afternoon.
There was pathos in the small graves of tiny children and tenderness in the loving messages graven in stone, now weathered by the elements and the slow passage of time. There was neglect and decay – and yet – a sense of continuity, of life continuing for the living, while the departed slumber, their essence preserved in the vitality their families bring to the world.
… and the stones, the beautiful, weathered volcanic slabs adorning the more prosperous graves,
the blackened marble
and sculpted masonry.
Divested of their meaning, they are objectively striking, but taken in context, their beauty is enhanced by the poignant memory of those whose resting-place they adorn, and the love of those who mourned their passing.