Sunshine Project – Day 89, Cemetery, Fort Washington, PA

I have always liked cemeteries. I find them peaceful and calm, usually full of trees and bushes, and quiet enough to hear birds sing. I also find the idea of so many life stories in such a small space something to think about.

So I decided to take a sunshine to the cemetery of St Thomas Episcopal Church, about 15 minutes from home. A church has occupied this site since the 1690’s – the current building from the 1880’s. It’s a large piece of ground and the church is set on top of a hill. Many people around us know of this church because of their carillon – concerts are given in the summer and I have heard the bells ringing while running or walking on the nearby Green Ribbon Trail.

I’ve never been in the church or even on the grounds before today. Why am I interested, then? Well, it’s because of traffic. I pass through this area several times a week and usually have to wait at the light at the corner of the property. As you do, I glance out the window to pass the time, and for years I have looked at this cemetery. There is one grave in particular, very near the road, that I always seem to be stopped beside. So, I thought I’d take the time to walk around the site today.

I parked near the church at the top of the hill. The oldest graves are near the front door of the church. I saw some with dates in the 1700’s. Some of them can’t be read at all – time has eroded their message. I believe these are made of marble and I know that marble does not stand up to the weather as well as granite.

I wanted to go down the hill to see the area I view from the car so often. There is a long flight of steps.

Steps down the hill St Thomas Church 3-19-15 small

I could the see the traffic on the Church Road below lined up trying to get on to Bethlehem Pike. I had not thought of this intersection as having a religious flavor before, but – look at those two names. I will tell you that “Bethlehem” refers to Bethlehem, PA, though, not the other one. There are several churches along Church Road, though; it covers quite a distance.

Here is the grave I most often see. I have often wondered why, with such a long life, that the event commemorated is service in World War II.

I started back up the steps. I noticed some very elaborate stones and I had to stop at this one particular area – everyone in the family had a stone like this one. Quite a sight.

I set the sunshine at the top of the steps. It seemed the right place, up here at the top, looking out like this, over the ranks of stones and the busy traffic below.

The sunshine is set on the low stone wall near the edge.

The sunshine is set on the low stone wall near the edge.

I walked back toward the church, meaning to examine it a bit more closely, but this table-like memorial stopped me. I have seen these before and I have to say, it would not be my choice of remembrance. It just reminds me too much of a kitchen table.

Table gravestone St Thomas Church 3-19-15 small

The church is built of a beautiful red stone, simple, but with the right amount of detail.

I was also very interested in the patterns of the stone. I think some of these markings are not decoration but are from when the stones were cut for the church, but I don’t know – I also think it might have been a style to work the surfaces like this. I guess maybe a combination of both thing? I will have to investigate. No matter what, it makes for a good play of light and shadow on the walls and keeps them from looking too overwhelming.

As I left, I noticed mothers and little children carrying their backpacks coming into one of the other buildings for preschool. The flow of people’s lives through this site continues.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, March 19, 2015.

Sunshine, March 19, 2015.

More about the Sunshine Project here – or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

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About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

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