Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Outer Banks Grave

One of my death-related projects has been searching out unusual examples of “rites of passage.” I came across one of these while investigating old graveyards on the Outer Banks.
Although the Outer Banks (aka, Hatteras Island) has a long history (“The Lost Colony”) it hasn’t many older graveyards. One exception is the town of Avon, which has an older town center. It is surrounded by miles of the beach houses that are the heart of the local economy. Located on the Sound side of the Island, it has long been a community focused on fishing. There is a church in the town that yearly has a unique service where an empty boat is launched and prayers for "the waterman’s" safety are said. There are a number of church and private grave yards under the expansive limbs of the live oak trees.
I came across the above grave site while walking the shore road in Avon. It’s a sad story, the passing of someone young, on the verge of the first year of college. Although, it’s a wonderful display; the young man’s prized possessions, a college banner, and a more spontaneous arrangement of shells, etc. I also was struck by how the live oaks stretched over the site, as though they were putting roots into the sky.
The grief of a loved one’s passing is overwhelming. It feels like the emptiness formed by that loss sucks all the life from you. Most of these actions we take in response are made to make peace with that powerful emptiness.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Anonymous Grave - Chestertown, Md.

This marker is from the same graveyard on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that I wrote about in the post preceding this one. Like the other grave stone, this is one of a group of stones without the names of the deceased. These stones are all grouped in one area of the graveyard.
The other stone had the phrase, “Is God Love God is Love” chiseled into it. This one is cast concrete, possibly cast by digging out the shape on the ground, and pouring the concrete into it. A large bathroom tile was set into the concrete, surrounded by 13 marbles. Since this is a graveyard that had been associated with a church (closed now, with no indication of name, etc.), one wonders if there is a religious association. 13 is the number of apostles if Christ is included in the group.

A recycled bathroom tile and some marbles. crickets, and the silence that lives deeply in all of us. Our little piece of existence chipped out of, but always present, in eternity. With some concrete and found objects, here lies a real monument to something beyond names.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Is God Love? God is Love.

Looking back over the photographs I’ve taken, death seems to emerge as a theme, or perhaps just an obsession. I’m sure I’m not the only one who might feel it. Mystified. Considering walking, living, breathing, seeing; what’s up when it stops? You can answer, nothing, it all stops, etc. An answer, but we want more. This seems like a wall blocking understanding; a mystery.
Words fail. Are we self-conceiving or self creating? Or, were we formed by our interaction with others, environment, God? Gurdjieff said, somewhat facetiously, much was determined by the smell of the lozenge the midwife was sucking on when she delivered him. Regardless, we can’t conceive of not-being, and we’re likely to feel distress if we try.
“Is God Love? God is Love” is the most important of these photos to me. I spent a lot of time in that grave yard, with the chant of the crickets by day, and the grunts of the frogs by night. Most of the grave markers have no name on them, since, given time, it’s the spirit of life, not particulars, that could interest the living. These are memorials that are more real than grave stones. They’re not talking about sentimental love, they’re talking about something as ever present as light.
The detail view of the stone shows two crudely chiseled fishes on either side, swimming toward a heart in the middle. On the right corner is a hand, pointing down from above. It appears to be cut in with a simple pointed tool.
These are all Christian symbols, the fish, the hand of god. The heart is usually the sacred heart of Jesus. This is the message left, instead of a name. The names all disappear in the wind, anyway. The eyes that read this are in the same body as a beating heart.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Coffee Cup (Painting with Light)

Coffee. Is there anything better than coffee? Well, perhaps, but, never mind. The above taken with the antique Speed Graphic, with the 135mm lens. The lens was pulled out to full macro, beyond the focus track. Then it was titled forward so the near and far lip of the cup would be in focus even at F-22. Spirit courtesy of time exposure and a flashlight waved above the cup. The flashlight provided light on the cup, and the reflection in the coffee. Simple lighting!