In graduate school, I once made a scroll from a scrap of linen. Irises, a Greek symbol for the link between heaven and earth, were equally spaced in a long, single row. The flower blossoms, painted in various colors, stood like living monuments against a pale, milky sky. Their roots, etched out of darkness, morphed into corpse-like forms below. The concept was this: We are connected to those who have gone before us. We share our lives with our dead. We carry them, and they carry us. I titled the scroll Prayer for People in Cemeteries.
Two years ago, when we buried my mother alongside my twin brother, I remembered this prayer. I stood as a living body among other living bodies, our feet dense and full of blood on a field crowded with death, and watched her, too, go into the earth. And what now? I asked myself. What of us who had assembled there on the morning frost? What responsibility did we have to this person we were burying? What were we to let go of, and what were we to safeguard within us?Read More