|Gravestone in memory of Btella. Daughter of F and M Back. Born: October 10, 1886 - Died: August 15, 1888 "Hidden in Earth to Bloom in Heaven."|
I meandered as birds twerped while I listened to the rustling crunch of my foot steps on the mantle of dry, fallen leaves on this property of the dead. I felt especially glad among these monuments to still be within the allocation of my time. I felt a breeze with more appreciation. The tiny purple flowers contrasted more it seemed with the brown baked ground in which they grew. None of it mattered. The man buried under a tilted wooden cross is as dead as the man buried in a sarcophagus of stone.
Sister Norberta said to us one day 51 years ago in 6th grade class that “The only thing you have to do is die.” I remember Sister Norberta and what she said, yet I know most if not all the people who had memories of these dead have died themselves. Although it goes without saying that probably not a one of these dead have names written in any page of history, the Union soldiers buried here participated in a war that did change history, ended slavery and preserved the United States.
|To the Memory of California's Patriotic Dead Who Served during the War for the Union.|
The only man whom a group of people that for 2000 years has been claiming that, though once dead---is now alive--- is Jesus of Nazareth. I reflected upon this claim a little, while walking in the graveyard. It is a persistent, centuries old rumor that doesn't fade into oblivion. The framed map of the Roman Empire hanging on a wall in my studio recalls the mighty, ancient power that penalized with death those who didn’t throw incense onto the altars of the gods. The framed photograph of a dark church spire with a cross on top against a backdrop of gold and orange sky was shot about a year ago in the nearby city of San Bruno. It too hangs on a wall in my studio. Both remind me of the choice I'm free to make. Do I sacrifice to Caesar or do I make the sign of the cross?